Pandemic. Hurricane. Earthquake. And that was just the first half of the month!
Despite so many headwinds, it has been delightful to see students back on campus this week. Even though we couldn’t see the smiles, we felt the energy. We all needed this week — together, even if only briefly.
The start of any school year is always one of imagination and invention. Excitement and possibility. This year, we unfortunately have to mix in caution and anxiety. We don’t have a playbook for opening a school year in a pandemic, made even more complicated against the backdrop of important reflection on race and equity and a highly politicized national election.
One of my first emails to parents and students this year involved asking you to read and sign something we call the CA: United Compact. Yes, this was in one sense a document that outlines behavioral expectations that will allow us to do face-to-face school in a pandemic. It was also an acknowledgment of the risks of doing same.
In another sense, it is a call to a higher purpose. It is a recognition that, as a community, we all have a stake in both our individual and collective wellbeing. At this stage in our understanding of the pandemic, we can all recognize that the individual choices we make could have a direct, negative effect on the health of another person — hence the expectations around masks and distancing.
Equally important, though, is the need to extend goodwill as we re-learn how to come together as a community. We need to uplift each other through this transition, as we all navigate so many different emotions.
Practically speaking, these suggestions are familiar:
- Assume positive intention.
- Listen to understand.
- Speak to be understood.
Putting these into practice when we might be nervous, anxious, angry, confused (insert your own adjective) is much, much harder.
But, now is the time to work — together — to create our best possible future. We cannot shrink away from the many challenges that confront us, but instead we need to lean into one another for comfort and support as we forge ahead.
Doing this well is going to require patience, flexibility, and grace — and as Mr. Bob Ingram told the graduates of the Class of 2020 at their virtual commencement — oodles of kindness.
Chargers, we are up to the challenge. Now is our unique moment to reinvent what it means to be a learning community committed to discovery, innovation, collaboration, and excellence.