Dear MHA Community,
In this video message, Mr. Mark Cotterman shares details regarding the end of the year now that Ohio school campuses are closed for the academic year. A full transcript is available below.
Full Transcript for Video Message

Greetings Mars Hill Community. I pray your family is making the best of this continued school campus closure. Although this situation has challenged all us, I am hearing wonderful stories about renewed family time together which is a real encouragement.
This video message will provide details to how we plan to complete the school year for Mars Hill Academy. I hope you find this video and the available transcript helpful as we work together in the final weeks of school.

I titled my most recent note in the Highland Highlights, “Closed, but Not Cancelled: Connection still strong at MHA.” Although not unexpected, Governor DeWine's announcement Monday to officially close our schools for the academic year was jarring. Our faculty and staff miss you all tremendously, and remote learning can never replace the beauty that happens within our classrooms.  As we grieve these cancelled plans and missed memories, we can be encouraged. Our physical campus is closed, but our community is still close. 

Your children are engaged in real, active learning with an ultimate purpose of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. A global pandemic may have changed how we connect with your children and our curriculum, but it has not changed our commitment to delivering a classical, Christian education to our families in a comprehensive way. I am humbled as I see how our teachers have risen to the challenge to keep that commitment to you.
The very nature of classical, Christian education and of our school's mission and vision fuels us on as we consider the upcoming weeks.

Now let’s talk about some details as we look toward the rest of the school year.

School Calendar
I want to start with the school calendar. We are adjusting the final week of school to allow time to close the year and maintain social distancing. Our final class day will be Friday, May 22.  This is one week earlier than the school calendar of Friday, May 29. This change will give us the opportunity to have families come into the school building on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 26 and 27 to clean out lockers, return textbooks and library books, pick up any other school related items. We will develop a schedule so all families are able to maintain social distancing. So again, the last classroom workday of the school year – the end of the school year – will be one week earlier with the need to come into school one day after Memorial Day to clean out lockers and cubbies and return school materials.
In terms of other calendar items.

I have communicated to families of seniors that we, unfortunately, have to reschedule commencement to this summer. We are working on ways for the whole school community to celebrate our seniors. This includes making Senior Thesis available in a live stream video session so all can attend.  Senior Thesis is the capstone accomplishment of our entire MHA curriculum, and we have a rare opportunity to invite the whole community to participate through live stream May 11, 12, and 13. We would love to have you see what your children are working toward as they pursue graduation in the coming years. If you can attend, I know you will be blessed.

The 6 th grade Accolade will be rescheduled to the start of the school year in the Fall.
I want to formally announce to current 7 th graders that we are planning to have you attend Space Camp next year as a combined 7 th and 8 th grade class. So we hope you are excited to look forward to experiencing Space Camp next year.

We have already announced Humanities Night is cancelled, but we are moving forward with our Annual Art show we started last year. It will be a virtual online Art Show, but the plans I have seen sound exciting where you may be able to walk through a virtual art museum and stop to enjoy each art piece and learn more about each piece.

Unfortunately, we do have to cancel a number of events, including the Spring Concerts, Rhetoric School Dance, field trips, and the Alumni-Senior Lunch to name a few. We also need to cancel Highland Games – but we are working on things we can do virtually together to enjoy community. 

Next year is our 25 th anniversary. This is a big milestone, and we plan to develop a special T-Shirt to celebrate. Soon we will being ask students to compete in a T-Shirt design contest. We plan to have some virtual games like we had in this week’s Highland Highlights with MHA Bingo. We are going to offer a virtual MHA Highlander Hustle 5k. 

Let me touch on some academic details, as well.
With the campus closure we will not have Stanford standardized testing this year.
We will also not have end of year finals for High School students as we normally do. Students may have end of year tests, but we won’t have traditional final exams that count 20% of your grade.

We did receive some questions in the Town Hall regarding optional work. This is more specific for Grammar students where teachers have indicated what work is required or optional, but it does apply to a few Rhetoric classes.  We want students to take advantage of as much as we offer while maintaining balance in your home. If a family decides not to do the optional work, it will not count against you. Grades will be determined based on the work that is completed. We do not want families to be worried about grades during this time, and hopefully this will eliminate any anxiety associated with choosing to do less.

For Rhetoric students your teachers are taking into account the situation we are in with remote learning and grading will be more focused on helping you understand concepts. The grade you had up until the progress report period for this semester will play a bigger role in your final grade. For those on the bubble of two grades – just like any other period, diligent work now can help you achieve the higher grade.

Although there will be fewer grades in NetClassroom than we might normally see, grades are being entered into NetClassroom. As always, please contact your child’s teacher with questions, including questions about assignments, grades, or workload. Teachers are you best source to address classroom-related questions and concerns.

Refund Process
Finally, I wanted to let folks know we are working through the process of refunds for cancelled prepaid items. This includes things like Chick-fil-A, pizza, and cancelled field trips in lower grammar grades. We are consolidating refunds so you receive one refund check. Please be patient as we work through all the details associated with these pre-paids. We have heard from some that you would like to donate your pre-paids back to Mars Hill, and we thank you and will make that option available.

Let me close with the closing comments I made in this week’s Highland Highlights.
When you enrolled at MHA, we promised to provide an excellent, classical, Christian education. Supporting our families is at the core of our community, and we are ready to do so throughout the remainder of the school year.A classical, Christian education is one that can thrive in the midst of a pandemic, because we are reminded of what true education is -- it is learning about the wonders of God's world, reflecting on them, and growing closer to Him. It sets our eyes on finding what is true, good, and beautiful and ultimately seeing His face in the midst of chaos. 

Be encouraged as we work together to finish this year strong.