June 25, 2021 

Dear Families,

We made it! The 2020-2021 school year, a year like no other, has finally come to a close! I want to publicly thank ALL of our staff members for all they have done during this very difficult year to make sure our students were safe, happy, and learning. I also want to thank all of you. I know (firsthand) how difficult this year has been for parents, and I appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigated these uncharted waters together.

A few months ago, our ELA teachers, under Dr. Radice's direction, helped our students to reflect in writing on how this year has been for them. Some of the questions asked them to reflect on some of the positive aspects of this year. Here is a sample of some wonderful answers:

Kindergarten: I like school more because I learned school is better and that is it!
Kindergarten: I like to go to school on the computer and at school because they’re both fun!
Grade 1: The best thing of this year was that I got to spend more time with my family outside.
Grade 1: I will always remember when my kindergarten teacher came to my house. It was a very special moment.
Grade 3: My teacher
Grade 3: that if we had to work from home we can do things like a Zoom or a Google Meet. Back in the day, some kids could not do what we can now.
Grade 4: That my teacher is awesome
Grade 5: I would reflect on being able to see my friends in school and even my teacher. Even if it’s with masks, we still got to see each other.
Grade 5: Having an amazing, loving, kind teacher
Grade 6: How I got better at writing
Grade 6: I made friends even though I am a fully virtual student.
Grade 6: I surprised myself by reading so many books.
Grade 7: If I am struggling to do something, I can just think it’s not worse than 2020 and I somehow managed to get through that.
Grade 7: That a pandemic could not stop me or others from learning and participating.
Grade 8: How many people I really have to rely on.
Grade 8: One thing I learned this year is that there are a lot of teachers and friends that are there for me and that they are there if I mess up. They try to help me be a better person than I am today.
Grade 9: How amazing it feels to read.
Grade 10: I got a dog.
Grade 10: That the world made it out of this and that it is pretty cool we lived through history.
Grade 11: I learned how to acclimate to big changes regarding school and the world in general.
Grade 11: I learned patience and an appreciate for solitude.
Grade 11: How strong I really am.
Grade 12: Movie evenings with my family, days full of creativity, walks on the beach with parents or alone, found new friends who became the closest to me, found a person who makes me happy.
Grade 12: The world is kinder to each other when we are all struggling, which is sad.
Grade 12: The unity of people trying to help others who were impacted on a greater scale.
Grade 12: The value of actually being in school.

It warmed my heart to read these comments (and others like them) from our students. Our kids are resilient and optimistic, and they know things are getting better!

While we still have not received any official guidance from the State regarding September, we are planning for a completely normal reopening. Below is a draft of a letter that the Board of Education plans to authorize and send to the Governor next week. We believe that our students need a return to normal, and that all indicators point to a great beginning in September.

If there are two bits of advice that I could pass along for the summer for your children, it would be 1) Read often, and read as a family. My kids LOVE when I read to them, and that is one of our fun summertime activities at night: we sit outside in our backyard after dinner, and we read to each other (usually while eating ice cream 🙂. 2) Have FUN! We have all just been through a stressful, serious time, and more than anything our children need play and light-heartedness this summer. We all do!

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your superintendent. I couldn’t be prouder of our students and our community!

Dr. Jennifer Gallagher 
Superintendent of Schools