Distance learning update

Earlier this week, Mr. Handmaker sent a message to parents before the third week of distance learning. We're reprinting the letter here.

Dear Friends,

As the novelty of distance learning at Keystone begins to settle into a new normal for at least a while, I want to share a few thoughts with you.

Spring is usually a dynamic time to be in education. This time of year can feel crazy busy with drama and musical performances, baseball, softball, track, and tennis matches, Science Fair and other academic competitions, and seniors engaged in deep discussion with their peers as they weigh their college acceptances and scholarship offers.

Students typically are walking that fine line of finishing one year and preparing for another. Seniors, in particular, balance the desire to start the next phase of their educational journey while waxing nostalgic about the things they will miss when they leave Keystone.

There is usually a great deal of excitement at this time of year. Now, the campus is silent. On a personal note, my wife and I worry about family in the New York area, a son in Chicago, and how the pandemic will affect our country. On and off campus, the current situation deeply saddens me.

At Keystone, classes are meeting online, and we’re all working to create routines and bring our sense of community into the virtual world. However, it is sinking in that distance learning is not the same as being with friends in person and talking to teachers face-to-face.

And yet, amidst all of this change, I see an incredible amount of good. Our teachers are digging deep to create lessons that challenge students academically and help them learn new content and skills. Our teachers and administrators are collaborating and supporting one another with new ideas and different ways to help students understand new material. Staff spring into action wherever they can to support students, parents, and teachers as we all navigate this new normal. The adjustment to distance learning is pushing us as educators to look anew at the way we have done things, adapt to new technology, and develop alternative ways of teaching.

Meanwhile, our Cobras are continuing their schoolwork, while finding and maintaining connections with their classmates. Children in the Little School parallel play with friends via Zoom, while lower schoolers discuss assignments with one another or their teachers online. Middle schoolers compete in a virtual Field Day, and high schoolers use this time to be creative, like the ninth grader who has developed and posted the first episode of his new podcast series, the other freshmen who have created a pandemic diary, and many other examples. These students are modeling for the rest of us how to make the best of a difficult situation. Their resilience amazes me, and their willingness to try new things and innovate bodes well for their future and ours.

I have also been heartened by the comments from parents who have jumped in feet first to help their children while working from home. Some of you have told me that you’re discovering new literature as you read along with your children, and others have expressed the joy of playing board games with your family or going for walks and having meaningful conversations. I commend you for finding silver linings in these uncertain times.

None of us chose this new reality, and we would all like to return to the lives we had before we had ever heard of COVID-19. Unfortunately, we may be in this for a while. In a recent conversation, a Keystone teacher and I discussed “The Wizard of Oz,” and I couldn’t help but think of the cowardly lion and his desire for courage.

So often when we consider courage, we envision heroic people battling insurmountable odds in epic struggles. We also know, though, that courage can be found in our daily battles with adversity. As the writer Mary Ann Radmacher says,  “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the e nd of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’ .”

In the days and weeks ahead, we will have good days and bad days. Wi-Fi connections will give out, services will crash and at some point, we will all have our difficulties navigating the technological challenges thrown at us. Nevertheless, I stand awestruck at the bravery of the Keystone community and the willingness to “try again tomorrow.”

As we continue to grapple with the coronavirus and its repercussions, I wish you health, peace, and courage.

With gratitude,


William B. Handmaker
Head of School
Senior Pizza Day
This week brought Senior Skip Day, when students take a break from classes. So how to maintain this tradition when all the students are spread throughout the city?

Upper School teachers devised a way for all of the seniors to be together while apart: Keystone sent each senior a surprise pizza before 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon, and had lunch together. (Above from left: Mario, Isabella, and Jack.)

Said Upper School Head Mr. Spedding: "This has been a strange 4Q that has disrupted many senior celebrations, but we are all impressed by how they are making the best of it."
Wellness Weekly
Today, we start a new feature of the Communiqué -- Wellness Weekly, from Nurse Penny and Counselors Mrs. Raymer and Dr. Shapiro

Hello to our Dear Cobra Community,

         Keystone’s Wellness Team, Nurse Penny Moyer and Counselors Alison Raymer and Erica Shapiro, are sharing some of our favorite resources around wellness, self-care, and togetherness through our “Wellness Weekly” communication. Please peruse and enjoy at your leisure. 

Nurse Penny’s Picks:

Mrs. Raymer’s Picks: 

Dr. Shapiro’s Picks:

Keystone’s Wellness Team remains available by virtual meeting, phone, or email during this period of distance learning for support of students and families. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we hope this finds you and your families healthy and well. 

All our best,

Penny, Alison, & Erica
Distance learning at the Little School
Even though parents have to log on for Keystone’s youngest students to connect with their teachers, the Little School is performing admirably in distance learning.

Keystone community responding to pandemic

Members of the Keystone community are living out the school's pillars of Community Involvement and Responsible Leadership by launching or supporting fundraisers to help organizations involved in the pandemic. We'll include them on the Keystone website at: https://www.keystoneschool.org/covid-19-resources . Click on the "fundraising efforts" tab.

Keystone family supporting Food Bank fundraiser

Keystone parents Gurpaul & Jasmeet Singh -- who have a fourth- and a sixth-grader in the school -- are asking fellow parents to support the San Antonio Food Bank.

Billy's Blog: From the Head of School
“Hope is the thing with feathers.”
Emily Dickinson

Last Friday via Zoom, I observed Middle School students in small teams take on a scavenger hunt, combine as grades against each other in a game called Padlet, and compete just as hard as they would if they were playing in person. In the same week, I sat in on Upper School class meetings as different grades met with Mr. Spedding and their teachers. I heard from parents about students in the Lower School engaging in academic and “specials” classes, and a Little School teacher shared a story of two children having online parallel playtime together.

Important Events and Notes
Sign up to volunteer for 2020-21 PTO

From PTO President Tracey Smith:

Many of you have already contacted us about volunteering for a particular PTO Council role next year, and we are so excited! If you are interested in serving on the PTO Council, please notify Kelle Acock at kelle_sutton@yahoo.com for additional information. We are thinking of you, and hope that you and your families are taking good care and remaining well. Our Keystone family bond remains strong. 
Keystone part of Big Give Emergency Relief fundraiser
In this unprecedented time, many of you have asked how you can help. All members of the faculty and staff have been working with the goal of helping our students be successful despite the unforeseen circumstances of COVID-19.

If you are in position to give back at this time, please consider honoring all of Keystone’s faculty and staff with a generous gift that is most comfortable for you. Your support will go towards Keystone’s operating budget and the school's commitment to academic excellence in this fluid and rapidly-changing situation.

Keystone apparel available online
Classes may take place online, but you can get physical merchandise through Vivroux Sports.

Or visit the company's store at 2222 Breezewood Blvd. in Alamo Heights to shop in person.
Support Keystone while you shop
If you're getting school supplies or adding to your home office from either Office Max or Office Depot , please mention Keystone. As part of the Give Back to Schools program , the stores give 5% of the purchase price of qualifying school supplies in credits to Keystone for office supplies. Be sure to include the school's ID number when you make your purchase. Keystone's school number is: 70100727.
If you're purchasing items from Amazon, please consider supporting Keystone with your purchases and use AmazonSmile. Just designate Keystone as the beneficiary and a portion of your purchases will go to the school.
We want to hear from you!
If you have news to share about the students, alumni, faculty or staff at Keystone School, please send it to: etijerina@keystoneschool.org .
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