As we continue to adjust, adapt and do whatever we have to do to make this “new normal” work, my thoughts are with you and your families and I hope you are staying safe and everyone is healthy. The last two months have been an emotional rollercoaster and have been trying for all of us, but I continue to be inspired when I look around BH and see the goodness in people and the genuine acts of kindness, both large and small, that are happening every day. These gestures of warmth, strength and caring give me the confidence that in time, we will emerge more united than ever before. In tough times, you find out who people really are. We have seen amazing examples of how self-interest gives way to shared interest.
Everyone by now has heard that Governor Murphy made the decision to close schools for in-person instruction for the remainder of the current school year. That means today marks the end of Week 8 (of a total of now 14 weeks) where our students will be learning remotely… something nobody ever envisioned.
I’m confident that just about everyone would have liked to return to school and participate in the various end of year events, celebrations, and promotion ceremonies. Although I don’t attend most of the year-end celebrations, I understand the importance, deep meaning and proud/warm feelings that are tied to a life defining moment like graduation. I do empathize with those who are missing out on arguably the most fun and memorable weeks of any school year. That said, our very capable and caring principals are working with both staff and students to virtually replicate some of these end of year celebrations. You will hear more from your principal in the coming weeks.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and there is no better time to highlight our continued appreciation of our teachers for everything they have done during our transition to remote learning. Their dedication to our students is unmatched and their commitment to give our students the best learning experience possible is recognized by all. And a shoutout to our Spring coaches – they didn’t simply toss in the towel because the season was delayed; they customized home workouts, shared motivational videos and had athletes watching previous year’s game film to get ready for the hopeful start of the season… which unfortunately didn’t occur.
I received a note from a parent last week that summarized remote learning and teacher feedback very well, it read…
“I never would have imagined that the transition from classroom education to online education could be so quick and seamless. While I hear parents from neighboring towns and work colleagues complain bitterly about closed schools, it just seems to work in BH, and work well.
"We feel very lucky with the way this has worked out. Kudos to whomever made the decision to work with Google Classroom and Zoom, to buy devices for all kids which allowed for a rapid roll-out, and most of all, the continued efforts of our teachers who actively engage our children daily.”
On a more personal note, I have enjoyed watching the different school videos and seeing teachers (many with their own kids joining them) connecting from home with their students. I also heard that Mrs. Nardi reads bedtime stories to her Hughes family. These are terrific happenings, and I am sure I missed a few.
And on the Community front…
- There was an unbelievable showing of support to celebrate Sophie’s 9th birthday; it was heart-warming to see her alongside her family as our first responders and dozens of families drove by, sunroofs open, balloons flying, and horns honking to celebrate her special day
- Our Front-Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) continues to raise funds and deliver meals to our front-line workers. They have now raised an incredible $50,700, have spent 39,800 of those dollars at our local restaurants and delivered a staggering 4,567 meals!
- I am equally impressed with what the new Business Aid: BH group has done in a very short time. This group was started by my friend Sheryl Manfreda to collect donations and provide emergency assistance grants to our town’s small businesses. These are the very same small businesses that donate tens of thousands of dollars for school celebrations, give a percentage of their sales towards school fundraisers, and often directly sponsor events. We have been extremely fortunate that so many of these local businesses have been there for our students year after year. It is heartening to see as a community we have stepped up to return the favor – over the past two weeks this group has raised $54,100 and yesterday distributed the first round of grant checks to 45 local businesses. It is kindness like this where BH shows its true colors
I’d like to also wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and grandmothers, who support BH’s children and the community with love. Mothers make sacrifices for their family every day without expecting anything in return. They are just happy to see their children happy.
As we continue on this journey, I appreciate everyone’s commitment to BH and to our school community. I have said many times that BH is a special town. Our residents have never shone more brightly. As we continue to come together, let us move forward with determination, resiliency and hope for brighter days ahead.
I'll conclude where I started: I hope you and your family continue to be safe and healthy. This crisis has revealed a great deal about who we are as a community and I'm moved by your continued resolve to get through this “as best as we can”