Dear Members of the St. Edmund Prep Family,
The months leading up to the start of this 2020-2021 school year were ones that were met with uncertainty, yet a strong desire to have our students return to our home on Ocean Avenue. When we closed on March 13th, never did I imagine what would be ahead of us. Thankfully though, we are blessed with a school community that embraces collaboration, and together, our teachers, faculty, staff, and students were able to work with the obstacles of a swift transition to remote learning and complete the school year.
The summer brought with it a series of planning sessions that lead to the creation and publication of our Re-Opening Plan which has been implemented and is being executed daily. This plan allows us to rotate three cohorts of students into the building for live instruction. This live instruction is also being synchronously streamed to the students whose cohort is remote or for those students who have chosen to go fully remote. All of our students are participating in live instruction, every period of the day. This transition to a hybrid environment, though difficult, has gone extremely well. Our teachers and students are developing a routine and genuine learning is happening daily. We are currently investigating ways to get our students into the building more often as we continuously re-evaluate our cohort structure and the numbers. We are excited at the prospect of being able to bring students into the school building more frequently, in a very safe and responsible manner.
Sports and Extra-Curricular Activities Return
In addition to getting back to the business of face to face learning, I am so happy to say that sports and extracurricular activities are resuming as well. On September 21st, the Catholic high school principals of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens voted to slowly bring outdoor sports back for the fall season. Our Return to Play Plan outlines all required COVID-19 safety measures are being taken for try-outs, practices and games. This week the moderators of our extracurricular activities are met to determine when and how their individual clubs will meet. By next week, we anticipate students participating in clubs in a hybrid manner. Though sports and extracurricular activities bring with them new challenges as we continue to live in this hybrid world, it is critical that our students have these opportunities. Part of the social emotional health of our students depends on their ability to socialize, play sports, and participate in those clubs that cater to their personal interests. Finding ways to allow our students to participate in activities outside of the school day is no less important than the learning that goes on in the classroom.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In addition to creating a safe environment for our students to come to school, we have also been reflecting on our role in the social justice movement that has demanded action and change. As a Catholic school community, we are committed to ensuring that our school has a very clear stance when it comes to hatred, racism, and bigotry. There is a zero tolerance policy for racism of any kind in our building. No one should feel marginalized because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. At level meetings this week, I spoke with students about the issue of race and St. Edmund Prep. In addition to making it clear to students that intolerance will not be tolerated, students were informed of a way to report instances of discrimination. At those meetings, we were happy to announce the creation of the Organization for Social Justice. This organization will be a place for students to learn about social justice issues; a place for students, faculty, and staff to have real conversations about race and also to create real initiatives for our school that will address social justice issues. Conversations about race and SEP will continue with faculty, staff and students as we create and implement more opportunities for our black students and all of our students of color. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about our new Alumni Mentorship Program which will help to foster positive, personal and professional relationships between alumni mentors and students.
Supporting the Prep
I am so pleased to say that our Parent Volunteer Committee is up and running for the school year. The Development Office in conjunction with the PVC are working to create fundraising opportunities for our school. Since the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, we are in the early phases of creating a virtual card party. Our annual walk-a-thon is on hold at the moment, but we are looking into a virtual walk-a-thon. Fundraising continues to be an integral part of our ability to educate our students. New technology upgrades and the quantities of PPE needed to run the school come directly out of our operating budget. Though our current tuition may seem high, it does not cover the cost of an education for a student. We rely on our fundraising to close the gap in our budget each year. This year brings with it new distinct challenges as we are not able to conduct many of our traditional fundraisers. Be on the lookout for new and creative ways to help our students.
Strategic Plan - Year 2
We continue to do the work we set forth in our strategic plan,Transforming through Tradition. I cannot believe a year has passed since we started planning the launch and implementing our early plans. As we enter into year two of our plan, we will continue to build on the foundation we created last year. Later this fall we will provide you an update on our progress on the year one strategic priorities.
I am very lucky to work with an amazing group of educators day in and day out who have helped to make the transition into the school year a bit easier. In addition to an amazing faculty and staff our parents have been truly outstanding. The amount of support we have received and continue to receive is amazing. I am so grateful for their support and honest feedback. Together, we all make a fantastic team.
Let us continue to pray for and with one another, entrusting our St. Edmund Family to the intercession of our Patron, St. Edmund and our Blessed Mother. I pray that each and every one of you remains safe and healthy.
Mrs. Allison McGinnis