Thank you for your many supportive and kind comments after my last email. So many of you also offered your assistance for our Service community members who might be in need during this difficult time.
One parent suggested that I start a spreadsheet, so we can pull together to meet the needs of our Service community. I started a spreadsheet the very next day. If you would like to add your name to the list of people offering to help or if you have any needs the Service community might help to address, please let me know.
United Way of Anchorage, one of our business partners, is also accepting donations for its COVID-19 response fund. They have already raised $80,000, with 100% of the funds going to support Anchorage-area needs (https://www.liveunitedanc.org). United Way of Anchorage also runs the Alaska 2-1-1 hotline, which is a “one-stop resource for finding help in your community. It’s free, confidential and available in almost any language.”
Since my last email, we’re under an emergency “hunker-down” order in Anchorage, and everyone from Dr. Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, to the U.S. surgeon general is telling us the same thing: “We really, really need everyone to stay at home.”
I know you’re doing your part to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors safe, and Service is, too. All of our staff are working from alternate locations, and the school is closed. I know that some of you still need to get some items out of students’ lockers, and I appreciate your patience and flexibility.
Following the governor’s mandate that cancelled school and suspended all after-school activities until May 1, ASD cancelled all spring sports and activities.
Two days ago, the governor issued another mandate, prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people and requiring that “if a gathering does take place, people must be six feet apart from each other.” This mandate is in effect until the governor rescinds or modifies the order; no end date was given.
Our Service prom, which was supposed to take place this Saturday, had already been postponed, and we had already lost our venue with the closure of the museum. Now, with these recent mandates and ASD’s cancellation of all activities, our Service prom is cancelled. All other proms in the district are cancelled, as well.
This is a gut punch. I feel it, too. I don’t want this for you, especially for our seniors.
Ms. Azzam and I came to Service four years ago, and our seniors this year are the first class that has been with us for all four years. That means something to us; all of our students and families mean everything to us.
We don’t want the end of your senior year or the school year to be marked with a string of cancellations. We want you to have all of the experiences you deserve—the experiences that other classes had—and you’re not going to have them.
I’m not going to try and sugarcoat this or tell you that this is somehow good for you, the equivalent of a spoonful of warm cod liver oil. It’s a raw deal. It’s unfair. It’s not right, and you don’t deserve it.
Acknowledge these facts however you need to: with a good cry, with a good rant to a sympathetic ear (I’m available; see below), with a long run on an inside treadmill, with whatever works for you. Take the hit, and then get up again. Why? Because you’re going to. Because neither me, Ms. Azzam, nor any assistant principal, teacher, counselor, or staff member at Service is going to let this virus affect the course of your future, if we can help it. As long as you are well, deciding to get up, get online, and finish out this school year is a choice that you still get to make.
Online classes in core subjects will start on March 31, and elective classes will start on April 13. Are online classes going to replicate the experience of walking through the doors of Service High School as a student? How can they? But they can keep students learning and on-track right now.
Students have already been enrolled in their classes, based on their teachers and schedules at Service, and they will log in to class on the district website. The district office will be sending out an instruction manual on the Canvas platform, the web-based delivery application, in the coming days, and Service teachers and counselors will be continuing to contact students to answer any questions and help with the transition.
All students, including seniors, will take classes through May 21. What about graduation? I don’t know what graduation will look like yet or what format it will take, but it will happen. I will not let the school year end without our graduates hearing their names called and receiving the recognition they have earned.
I said in my last email that sometimes, there is no way around, only through. This week, we have begun to glimpse what will be the dear cost of getting “through” this pandemic.
If you need anything, please let me know. I miss saying hello to students in the hallways and lunchroom, so I’m starting a weekly online chat for students. Log in with Zoom on Thursday at 11:00 (details below), and let me know how things are going, what you’ve been up to, what books you’re reading, and what I need to be watching this weekend on Netflix. The link is https://asdk12.zoom.us/j/398705974.
Please check in on each other, and if you hear of anyone who is not receiving these emails or communications from ASD, please ask them to update their contact information on Q Parent Connection.
I am grateful for you and our Service community, and I hope you are well.
Principal, Robert Service High School