Yolanda King Stephen
A Weird, Early End to the School Year
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
From the PR Girls Perspective
When the governor announced school will be closed for in-person academics for the remainder of the school year, I was a mixed bag of emotions.
First off, I knew I had a job to do. I had to get the message out to our employees in a succinct, yet appropriately worded message. They are our mouthpieces and they should be the first to hear from district leaders.
Secondly, I had to mentally prepare for the onslaught (neigh, slaughter?) of questions that were bound to inundate our district’s social media pages. It’s kind of like the beginning phrase from the Facts of Life theme song – You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…comments from irate senior parents, people asking why are we still serving meals if schools are closed, parents asking for the return or prom money, students asking if they really have to complete the online assignments. So, yeah, a mental preparation is in order.
Thirdly, I took some time to capture my personal emotions in words. Writing helps me think better, feel better, and it memorializes whatever is going on in my mind at that moment. I don’t have a senior in high school and I am not in the classroom every day, but hearing the governor make his announcement left a void – it was a loss in some type of way. And it just felt weird. Below is what I wrote in my public, Facebook journal:
Today has been a mixed bag of emotions. I had to send one of the most difficult school communication messages ever. As I was typing and then recording my voice for the community message, all I could think about were the students. Nope, I wasn't in a classroom every day, but when you video faces, photograph milestone moments, and write teacher and student accomplishments for Board meeting recognition's, you begin to feel a bit of a connection to each one.
You remember their faces.
You remember their milestones.
You remember their accomplishments.
It’s like you had a hand in their growth.
And if they remember you, it’s an even greater feeling of enthusiasm. You find out middle schooler's do like being posted on the website and Facebook. They just pretended to act cool in front of their friends.
Our (school) kids were excited about this school year. You could feel the needle moving up as you walked into the buildings. They enjoyed learning. You could tell by the eagerness they showed in sharing their work with the camera lens. It was just in the atmosphere.
I was excited, too. I loved the smiles, the laughs, and the hugs from the little ones. The students, from elementary all the way up to high school, will keep you young and singing the most updated pop song.
Now it's been halted. From those Pre-K babies to the seniors, it feels like something is missing. Like something is incomplete. I just don’t know what. My heart reaches out to everyone who has a school age child. I can empathize because I have a 5th grader who was supposed to walk across his elementary stage as a symbolic expression of moving on to middle school. I also have a junior who is watching her senior friends crumble at the thought of missing out on graduation. She’s also eagerly anticipating exempting College Board tests, but that’s an entirely different blog!
One thing that I do know and feel is that we will get through this – together!
*These photos are the last few in my camera reel. They are of our employees having neighborhood parades to see students, cleaning buildings, putting together work packets for students in homes that may be internet deficient, and feeding students 18 and under. The photo of me and the student was the last one I took in a school building for the 2019-2020 school year.