May 19 Home Communicator – You might already know from my previous writings that one of my goals as elementary principal this year was to get into a classroom each day to read a picture book. I loved spending time with the kids and helping them think about books through the eyes of a Christ follower. Every day I took a small Polaroid picture of the book cover, labeled it with the grade level and the class I read to, and clipped it to a string on the wall outside of my office. When I stopped at school the other day and saw the empty string waiting for more pictures, a little wave of sadness fell over me. It feels unfinished and not how things were supposed to end.
In past years, it was always right around this time of the year–when staff was feeling weary and the weather started getting nicer and the kids were becoming less focused and ready for summer–that Mr. Pott would remind the staff that the students followed our lead and that it was important to teach to the end and finish strong. We’ve all seen races where a strong finish is important. It’s been a while, but I remember watching the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, where Michael Phelps won a gold medal when he pulled ahead at the end of a close race to finish one hundredth of a second before the silver medalist. A strong finish counts.
The way we are finishing this school year is obviously different from a typical year. It makes many of us sad, maybe even leaves us a little bit angry or questioning why things have to be this way. Class celebrations, graduations, end of year chapels, and many other events are not going to look the same this year. So how do we finish strong when everything feels so strange?
As a leadership team, we’ve been talking about what we want to focus on at the end of this school year and we’ve decided to end the year with a variety of activities. 8th graders will be working on and sharing their Faith Journey projects before they graduate. HCS families have been invited to take part in a Be the Change Family Challenge to help classes focus on this year’s theme during their last virtual gatherings. Meaningful virtual chapels are already in the works to end the year and we are working on plans so that students will be able to see their teachers and say goodbye before the summer break. This is how we intend to finish strong this year, and to be honest, it looks a lot like how we finish strong every year: focusing on our relationships with each other and our relationship with Christ.
As you anticipate finishing the race that is this school year, I leave you with the verse from last year’s school theme–Running the Race:
“Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.”
Tricia Kiepert, Elementary Principal