Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Season of Thanks

ABRHS Ambassadors visiting 9th Grade Advisory Students

As I reflect on the challenging fall we've had at the high school this year, I also feel many reasons to be deeply grateful. 

This morning, our Ambassadors visited 9th grade Advisories to build connections and community and to facilitate conversations about their experiences at A-B. The 9th grade class has been especially on my heart these past few weeks. While their feedback during our Advisory "check in" activity tended to be less about the experience of our student deaths and more about understanding the high school (Why can't we play wall ball outside during lunch? Why don't 9th graders have free periods?), I am sensitive to their possible wonders about what their high school experience will be like going forward. We continue to look for ways both formally and informally to connect with them and help them to feel at home in our school community.  

Tomorrow marks the first "official" senior activity of the year: Senior Dress Up Day. Staff volunteers decorate the upper gym, put together a breakfast for seniors, and judge the annual costume contest. I had one senior ask me recently, "Is it okay that we are having a fun event after what happened this fall?" The answer from me, and from the clinicians with whom we have consulted along the way, is yes. Our seniors do need to be able to have happy moments together and to feel a sense of unity as a class. We hope for a spirited, uplifting event, and we are grateful for the leaders in the senior class who have helped in large and small ways to bring the class together.

We did take some time last week to connect back with students during Advisory and answer some of the frequently asked questions as a result of our check-in activity. Particularly for 12th and 11th graders, there remained questions and comments about workload, why we didn't hold assemblies, and how decisions are made during a crisis. We also shared with students ways in which their voices can be heard regarding school-wide policies, practices, and events, and we hope they will take advantage of those ways to positively contribute to our larger school culture.

Our last few weeks also brought some wonderful events to our community, including a truly magical production of Mary Poppins, another remarkable Cabaret performance, and a successful fall athletic season.  We are grateful to ABRHS teachers, coaches, parents, and students who collaborate to make our fall events successful and bring us together.

I wish for all of you a relaxing, healthy, and happy holiday week with those you love. Thank you to the many community members who continue to show your support and care for our staff, students, and families. Looking forward to seeing those of you who will be at the game Thursday morning. Go Colonials!