DEBRIEF – Administration reflects on the school year with COVID-19

Olivia Thompson, Staff writer

The success of the school year in the hands of the pandemic had administration on edge. Despite the restrictions of school activities and sports, when Principal Rick Fleming looked back on the 2020-2021 school year, he said it was a major success.

“I have to give all of the credit to our staff,” Fleming said. “[Assistant Principal Catherine] Halbuer for all of the safety protocols put in place [and] the bell schedules;[Assistant Principal Glenn] Webb with transitioning to block scheduling in a two-week period of time; and then, of course, the teachers who have to stand up and give instruction and then go over to the computer and say ‘Did you guys get that?”

Webb said despite restrictions placed on school-related activities, there was minimal backlash from parents.

“I think that empathy is really winning out in the end,” Webb said. “I think parents understand what their children are going through and I think they understand the challenges that we’re facing in education.”

Transitioning to bell schedule was an unexpected and last-minute task for administrators. 

“It was crazy with only having two weeks to get [the schedule] done,” Halbuer said. “But once we started experiencing quarantines and teachers had to do the hybrid instructional model, I think it was a great thing to do. I cannot imagine how many children that have been caught up in quarantines and how stressed it would have been for teachers [and students] to log in to six [or seven] different classes.”

Webb said the difficulties of block schedule centered on adaptability for students and teachers.

“The most challenging part [of implementing the bell schedule] was trying to refocus everything from 45-minute periods to 90-minutes of instruction,” Webb said. “To the layperson, they might think ‘Oh well the periods are twice as long, so you just do two lessons in a day.’ But that’s not how [it] works. You have to really flip the script when it comes to tying bigger ideas together with some of the smaller concepts.”

Fleming said he is also pleased with the continued high performances in sports and academics.

“I would say the good part [of this year] is ‘business as usual,’” Fleming said. “We had seven national merit finalists, many ISEF winners, four of our athletic teams [went] to regionals. I’m very disheartened and saddened for our performing arts kids though, [because they] took a huge hit [this year].”

Administration welcomes a return to a normal schedule in the future.

“I can’t wait to get back to a seven-period day myself,” Webb said. “I can [also] tell you [administration is] excited to be getting back to a power hour at some point in the future too because that connection time for kids is really important.”