June 2, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

Tomorrow is the final day of school for the 2020-21 year. In many ways, just writing that first sentence pauses me to read it again. It has been a year unlike any others due to the COVID-19 virus and the impact it had on schools. As I reflect on the year, I am so incredibly proud and appreciative of our faculty this past year. The “can-do” attitude and knowledge that our children learn best by being on campus – in a classroom with their peers and teachers – has kept them focused this entire school year.

As many of you saw last week during our Celebration of Accomplishments, many modifications were made to make it all possible to have everyone here every day, but it only worked because of their commitment to each individual child and collectively as a school. We also had many homeroom teachers teaching both in-person and to our online students for the majority of the year, adding another level of planning and detail. Again, our teachers realized that keeping our online students connected to their peers and homeroom classroom was so important to keep their engagement high from home. Our specialist teachers were seen moving from classroom to classroom all year as we did our best to keep the “pod-environment” as safe as possible.

I would also like to thank all of our parents for the unwavering support you provided – it was greatly appreciated. We know there were lots of logistical and health details you had to maintain this year, and it didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you for keeping your children home when they may have exhibited a COVID-19 symptom as simple as a sniffly nose. While living in Denmark, I always appreciated the Danish phrase tusind tak – translated in English as “a thousand thanks.” As we prepare for the final day of school tomorrow, WE did it! We had school every day this year, and we did our best to keep everyone healthy and safe. We are all exhausted. We will look back on this year not only with a huge sigh of relief that the year is over with a much-deserved break on the horizon, but also with gratitude that we know that the energy children bring to us inside the school provided us the fuel to make it through and thrive.

Thank you for joining us last week for the Lower School Summer Math and Reading Fun webinar (view recording). We hope you were able to learn about many types of activities to engage your children in meaningful ways – mostly without technology and many that can be done together as a family. Here is the link to the slideshow with links to the activities we spoke about.

The final End-of-Year Closing Celebration will be on Thursday, June 3rd, beginning at 9:00 a.m. It will be livestreamed to students in the Lower School, and families are welcome to join us using this Zoom link. A special thank you to Mrs. McLaughlin and Mrs. Schroeder-Lowery for all of their preparation into continuing this tradition during a non-traditional year!

To help with your year-end planning, please see the list of upcoming lower school events below:

  • June 3rd: Lower School Closing Program (9:00 a.m. via Zoom)

  • June 3rd: Last Day for Students (school ends at 3:15 p.m.)

  • June 4th: Fifth Grade Closing Celebration (in-person for families at 9:00 a.m.)

This week’s parenting article is entitled Kids Can Be “Homesick and Happy” At Camp and is from The New York Times parenting section. It can be found using this link.

We have several lower school faculty members saying goodbye at the end of this year. It is a bittersweet farewell as we wish each of them all the best in their future plans, but know they will be missed and their service to Academy has been greatly appreciated. Departing faculty include:

I would like to say a few special words about Paul Kegelmayer (Director of Academic Programs), also known as “Mr. K” to our students. Paul has had a major impact on the Lower School for many years. His youthful enthusiasm, ever-present smile and positivity, as well as empathy and understanding of children has shined bright for 33 years. Whether it was coaching on the football field, chaperoning trips to Glen Helen, teaching math, teaching fourth grade or helping out with carline, Paul always puts Academy first and most importantly, students first. He instinctively sees the good in people and the potential for growth in students. He has been a positive force in our Responsive Classroom program and a devotee of CARES. Paul, on behalf of the entire lower school faculty, I thank you for 33 devoted years at Academy and wish you all the best in your retirement and move to Florida – may the fish you catch be large, the sunsets beautiful, and the joy of a more relaxed pace of life keep you smiling. You will be greatly missed at Academy! Carpe Diem!

To everyone, have a lovely summer! Read lots of books. Look up at the stars in your backyard on a muggy July evening. Enjoy the melodic sound of the cicadas (your kids will be grown up the next time they appear). Take some hikes at state parks. Play some family board games on a stormy day. To those moving to a new city and school next year, thank you for being students in our school and please come back and visit us – as a Viking, you are always welcome!

Happy Summer,

Head of Lower School