End of Year Letter from Our Head of School

June 11, 2020

Dear HCA Community,

As our school year comes to a close I would like to take a brief moment to reflect on 2020 and the opportunities it brought to our school community. We began the year with a beautiful celebration of our 60th anniversary. Our school, established in 1959, was founded on the principles of providing students a progressive education focusing on the “…endeavor to develop mature persons capable of making choices which enrich their own lives and contribute to the lives of others.” It is certainly safe to say that these past 13 weeks have provided our students the opportunity to mature and develop.

Upon reflection, I begin with tremendous gratitude for your generosity, commitment, and flexibility during this historic time. Over the last thirteen weeks we have had to make many decisions that were unimaginable in the Fall. We closed our campus, moved our curriculum online, transitioned to an entirely remote learning environment, and adjusted to evolving health orders. These have been stressful and anxious times personally and professionally. Through it all your steadfast commitment to HCA’s mission, our students, your care for each other, and your flexibility and resilience represent the best of who we are. I would like to thank our Board of Trustees for their whole-hearted and unwavering support. They worked closely with school administration and provided valuable guidance during difficult times. We are blessed to have such a committed and dedicated Board. I would also like to thank our senior leadership team for their devotion and perseverance. These times called for strong and flexible leadership and the team worked tirelessly to assist our teachers, students, and parents. Finally, I would like to extend an astounding round of applause to our faculty! They brought the true spirit of HCA into your homes each and every day. They provided structure and a sense of normalcy to the children and all the while continued to “challenge the mind” while “nurturing the spirit.” I have said this time and again, but there is no other team I would have rather battled through these past thirteen weeks with. Please join me in congratulating them for a job well-done!

The events of the last three months have been difficult, to say the least, but we must look for opportunities in all that life has to throw at us. The switch to remote learning has forced all teachers to rethink how we teach. For HCA, this has been a blessing as it has redirected our attention to our progressive roots. Our faculty continued to evolve and develop creative and thought-provoking lessons that were truly student-centered. In addition, our forms of assessment needed to evolve as well. Teachers needed to rethink assessments and create authentic experiences in which to evaluate student knowledge. Given our remote learning, feedback needed to be immediate. Our teachers will be working through the summer to further develop authentic experiences for the fall. In addition to developing meaningful experiences, our faculty will be working over the summer to realign our curriculum. We are acutely aware of the gaps in knowledge that our students will have come fall. Faculty and administration will be working to ensure that these gaps are addressed and that our students can continue their academic growth.

In addition to our experiences from our distance learning program, the issue of racial inequality that continues to plague our nation has given us the opportunity to re-examine our overall program from Toddler through Eighth Grade. The faculty and administration will be working this summer to bring more diversity into our curriculum. We will examine our literature, our cultural studies, and our approach to current events so that we can bring in perspectives from all points of views. In addition, we will offer experiences for students and parents that will allow for meaningful discussion on topics of race relations and equality. Holy Child’s mission is also rooted in social activism and social awareness and we will put into place service projects that focus on “Actions, not words.”

Looking ahead to in-person classroom operation in the fall, the administrative team will be scenario planning so that we are well-equipped to navigate the inherent complexities of the moment and prioritizing the safety and well-being, both physically and emotionally, of our entire community. We will hold virtual and in-person town hall meetings throughout the summer months to keep the community apprised of our reopening plans and guidelines.

I would like to end by recognizing all of the hard work from our students. We held our diploma ceremony for our graduating eighth grade class yesterday. It was a beautiful ceremony punctuated by bittersweet tears from students, parents, and faculty. The graduating class will certainly remember this year, 2020, as the year they were forced to mature far beyond their years. This was not only the experience of our eighth graders, but for all of our students. Our students faced these past three months with great maturity and resilience and for that, we celebrate ALL of the children. May our experiences help us grow closer as a community with a deeper understanding and respect for all. I share with you below, the letter I wrote for the graduates in the yearbook and that I read to them yesterday at the ceremony. I believe it truly captures the spirit of all members of our community.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, and relaxing summer and know that our team will be working diligently throughout these next few months to welcome the new academic year with excitement about the future and a renewed energy.

With Grace and Blessings,

Art

 

To the Graduating Class of 2020,

 Yearbook letters always seem the same to me. They usually begin with a congratulatory paragraph, praising your accomplishments of the year. They then go on to tell you about the vast future that lies ahead. They encourage you to “seize the day” and “embrace the challenges that the future holds.” They finish off with comments about how the school community will miss your presence. That’s how most yearbook letters go. Very formal and very predictable.

Now, notwithstanding our current situation, all of the above is very true. You must approach the future with an open mind and embrace each new challenge. However, you, the class of 2020, will charge into the future with much more under your belt than any other class that has come before you, ever. You have endured, with confidence and great success, a global situation unlike the world has ever seen. Through it all you have held your heads high, took true ownership of your own learning, and probably mastered a few TikTok dances along the way. I had the pleasure, and it truly was a pleasure, to see you all each and every morning in class during this quarantine. Your attitude and approach to learning was only strengthened by what life threw at you. Your commitment to your studies was impressive. You took control of your own learning. It would have been very easy to go through the motions and blame COVID-19 as to why you could not turn in an assignment. However, you all did the exact opposite. You did not let the virus get in the way of your education.

What’s more impressive, however, was your commitment to each other. You supported each other through some very difficult times. THAT will bind this class together forever. Your friendships and your support of one another will be something that you all will carry with you and it will help you as you form new relationships and new friendships. As you meet new people in the future they will be able to see that you are different, you are special, you are kind-hearted and you are resilient. You are individuals filled with empathy, individuals that offer ears to listen and shoulders to cry on, individuals that celebrate successes, and individuals that others can rely on. Now, individually you are strong, but collectively you are HCA STRONG. That will keep this group connected forever. The phrase Holy Child Forever holds a new and special meaning for the class of 2020.

I will end with the traditional paragraph, but this time it comes from the heart. We will miss you, tremendously. I said it to you in class and I truly meant it, in my 24 years of education, this is the class that tops my list. I wish we could have celebrated the many end of year events together, but I know that we will celebrate together your many successes in the future. As you graduate, and we send you off to high school, I want to ask of you one thing. Please, make sure to come home and visit often.