When the 2020-2021 school year started, everything was COVID. We had to figure out how to configure a room, how to walk down a hallway, how to eat lunch, how to clean a desk, how to dismiss classes, etc. The time and effort that went into keeping the building open were exhausting. Add on top of that the CDC and Clermont County guidelines for quarantine, and you have a very chaotic situation. Even with the best-laid plans, we were constantly making changes. Mike Tyson famously once said, “ everyone has a plan ‘ till they get punched in the mouth.” Trust me, we felt the punches.
Hundreds of students were being quarantined, and the focus was always COVID. We had to constantly pivot from one situation to another. Miraculously, the CDC relaxed the quarantine guidelines, and we were able to get back to work. My focus shifted from quarantine guidelines to the senior class and how I could help them get to graduation. I decided to meet with our at-risk students regularly and show them the path to graduation. I also wanted to instill a sense of urgency in them. Most of them rose to the challenge and made it across that stage. It was heartwarming to see them in their caps and gowns walk across the stage and receive their diplomas.
This school year, I’m hopeful that we can up the ante and improve the outcomes for our students. There are endless opportunities for these kids. Not only do I want them to walk across the stage, but I also want them to walk across the stage with a purpose. These young people are too smart and resourceful for high school to be the end of the road. We have the opportunity to open more doors for these students. We have the opportunity to get out into the community and bring them to our doors. We have the opportunity to uplift this community by helping our students find meaningful careers and options that they never knew were possible. The sky’s the limit for this high school and these kids. We will RISE together.