Welcome Back Sharks!

Wednesday, January 6, 2020

Dear St. Francis Students, Parents, and Employees,

I want to say Happy New Year and welcome to the start of the spring semester. Thank you to everyone for your prayers. The Lee’s have fully recovered from COVID. We hope that you and your families had a safe, quiet holiday break without much excitement or drama.

This next week school will start. For the first week back to school we will take the advice of the county and diocese and conduct our schooling through distance learning. This means that the week of January 11-15 we will have school but we will conduct it through distance learning for ALL students. There will be NO in-person learning next week. Please make sure your students are awake and in class on time. Also, we want to remind all students learning at home next week that you need to be out of your bed, at a desk or table, in your school uniform, and with your camera on. I will remind teachers tomorrow at our virtual all-student review to be mindful of these simple, clear expectations.

And now, this spring semester’s first week of 2021; remember, no in-person learning. All will participate in distance learning this first week:

Monday, January 11:

  • Tutorial
  • Periods 1-4

Tuesday, January 12:

  • Tutorial
  • Periods 5-7 with school ending at 1:15
  • C period is a Faculty-Staff meeting

Wednesday, January 13:

  • Optional Parent Meeting
  • Virtual Academic Office Hours

Thursday, January 14:

  • Tutorial
  • Periods 1-4

Friday, January 15:

  • Tutorial
  • Periods 5-7 with school ending at 1:15

Thank you to all of the students and teachers who managed fall semester exams through distance learning. We are all impressed with how hard our teachers and students worked in the hybrid learning environment we had this last fall, especially with the sudden shift to distance learning Thursday, December 3, 2020. This time was right when the spikes in positive COVID cases skyrocketed and we had to quickly shift to keep everyone safe.

The decision to start our 2021 spring semester with distance learning means that we will have gone through 6 weeks of not being on campus; that’s 3 full COVID cycles. I want to reassure all of you that the campus is superclean, sanitized, and ready for our return to in-person and hybrid learning on Tuesday, January 19th.

Mrs. Eagleson sent out a survey to find out if your student will be returning to in-person or distance learning this semester. We will follow up with phone calls by the front office next week. We are doing this because we will not add any students during the entire 3rd quarter to in-person learning. If you say no now, you are saying no until March and the start of the 4th quarter. So think carefully about your answer.

This Christmas break we replaced the butterfly roof on the science building, D-wing, and cleaned all of our HVAC filters. Coach Kenny will be dropping his son off to college and will restock all sanitizers, as well as paper towel and bleach wipe dispensers. He was even able to finish painting the boys locker room.

Does anyone want to know their fall semester grades? Great! Teachers will review and verify grades January 8-11 with the report cards going live on FACTS/RenWeb January 13, 2021. Our plan is to mail the report cards and honor roll certificates out around the same time.

Mrs. Eagleson is finalizing student and teacher class schedules this week. She will send updates so please continue to check your email and Google Classroom. Many students will be switching classes, teachers, or periods for their academic classes. Teachers will also email your class requirements, class supplies, and new class online GoToMeeting codes.

Thanks to Ms. McLeod, all of the faculty and staff participated in a virtual retreat today. Our souls have been recharged as we laughed and prayed together. Tomorrow, this Friday, we will have our virtual all student review. In this meeting, we review how every student is doing academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a great way for us to continue to build relationships with students and offer them mentoring and support in all of the previously mentioned areas.

We are working with all of the high schools in Santa Cruz County to have our own seasons of sport. We may switch some sports around to start with non-contact sports like cross country, tennis, and golf; then, when we have more vaccinated people and we move down a tier or two we can move into football, indoor sports, and baseball/softball. I am confident that we will have sports so keep up with grades and with your team’s sports conditioning practices. If you have questions, please contact our Athletic Director, Mr. Adam Hazel or his assistant, Coach Kenny.

Sharks, Yesterday, we watched in horror and outrage as a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly effort to disrupt the certification of the election victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It also left us with questions as educators and parents as to how we would help our young people make sense of this assault on our democracy.

 

As educators, we are charged with the responsibility to educate students about the important history that shapes current events, build their capacity for critical thinking, and inspire them to actively participate in civic engagement to help make their communities safer and stronger. We recognize that education is essential for our democracy. In fact, preparing the next generation of compassionate, ethical leaders with Catholic values who are good citizens is the very reason we are in this profession.

 

These events in our nation’s Capitol have some of our students frightened, confused, and upset. Our teachers and administrators are looking at how to establish a safe space for discussion and learning about these still evolving events today and in the weeks to follow. We are encouraging students expressing fear or distress about what they witnessed to reach out to their teacher, counselor, or me for support. We are also thinking about the questions parents/guardians might have about how to talk to students about these events and will discuss at our next SFPA meeting.

 

There are so many lessons we can learn from this dark episode. The ways in which yesterday’s event unfolded in Washington DC reveal a striking and important discrepancy. Our young men and women are witness to the vast disparity between the mostly peaceful treatment of this seditious mob and this summer’s brutal treatment of protesters standing up and speaking up for racial justice at Lafayette Park.

We must continue to champion the power of education to end intolerance, disrupt systemic inequity, and create safe spaces for dialogue, unity, and growth.

 

To be honest, the partnership between educators and parents has been both challenged and strengthened over the last ten months of the COVID-19 pandemic. My vision, and as part of our Catholic mission, is that we come together as a community to ease our students’ anxiety and remind them of their role as protectors of our democracy. This information is not motivated by any political agenda. This information is being shared with you based on our role as a Catholic school.
 
Finally, the office is back open if you need anything. We live in a great community of caring and supportive people, so please do not hesitate to ask for assistance. As you’ve heard me say repeatedly, we are stronger together...and together matters! We will get through this together. God bless!
 
Yours in Christ,
Mr. Patrick Lee
President/Principal
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