Districts’ admin helping keep class of ’20’s spirits up

by Cristin Parker cristin@thecherokeean.com

School’s out forever? Feels like it.

Especially to the members of the class of 2020, who may not get prom or a graduation ceremony since school is canceled at least until Monday, May 4, thanks to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In accordance with the guidelines set forth by President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help curtail the spread of the virus, Texas Governor Greg Abbot on Tuesday, March 31, extended the mandate that closed schools across the state last month. Schools shall remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance and shall not recommence before Monday, May 4.

In compliance with this order, Alto ISD will remain closed until at least Monday, May 4.

“We are Alto ISD,” administrators stated in a letter posted to the district’s Facebook page. “We are sad. We are heartbroken. We are disappointed. We are frustrated. Why? Because YOU are our purpose, our pride and joy, our reason for doing what we do. YOU, class of 2020, are the reason the kindergarten teacher reads stories in magical voices, the reason the math teacher turns math facts into silly songs, the reason the science teacher makes reactions bubble from tubes, and the reason the coach stays late hours creating a game plan. YOU are the reason the bus driver rises before the sun, the reason the cafeteria provides nutrition no matter the situation, the reason maintenance locks the gates and the reason the nurse bandages the boo-boos. YOU ARE OUR REASON!

“We need you to know you are not forgotten. Your heartache is not ignored or unheard. It is in the hearts and minds of every person making decisions for this school and community. It is in the minds of each administrator and teacher as we look at the realities of the coming weeks. You are not forgotten, because you are our reason and our hope for the future. You are the completion of a goal we have for every child in our care; to walk a stage with the knowledge needed to make a difference in this great big world. Although, we are uncertain of what the immediate future holds, we are sure you have the tools needed to make that difference!

“We want nothing more than to be able to honor you at the completion of this school year, to show you off to our community and to celebrate your accomplishments. We are taking each day as it comes, with new challenges and changes. The last thing we want to do is make a promise to you that we may be unable to keep.

“Formal graduation ceremonies will be scheduled as soon as we believe it to be safe and in the best interests of students, staff and general public. In the event that we are unable to hold a traditional ceremony, we are actively looking at alternatives to celebrate our graduates in an appropriate manner.

“Life is tough, but you are tougher! You have weathered many storms in your young life and you have proven resilient, steadfast and strong. We couldn’t be more proud of YOU! Sincerely, AISD.”

While an official date has yet to be set, Jacksonville ISD officials seem pretty confident the district will be able to provide a graduation ceremony to its seniors this year.

Staffers passed out caps and gowns to students via drive-through on Friday, March 27.

“More information about graduation will come as soon as we reconvene as a school district,” school authorities posted on the ISD’s website.

JHS Principal Ben Peacock stated in a video posted to the campus’s Facebook page via YouTube, “I’m wearing my district family shirt today, because we’ve been such a family these last few days -- everybody’s really been pulling together and working together to do what’s best for you guys.

“I also want to tell you how much we appreciate the overwhelming hard work our students have put on our online learning platforms.”

Rusk High School’s prom has been rescheduled for June 13 at The Legacy, but there’s no word on when an Eagle graduation ceremony might be held.

RHS Principal Ronnie Snow posted a video statement addressed to his senior class.

“We kept thinking we’d be back by April 13 and back to some sense of normalcy,” Snow said. “That’s not going to happen now. Remember the first day I met with you in the fall, I told you my number one goal as principal was to ensure that you had a great senior year and a very memorable senior year. While this is going to be very memorable for all of us, it is not what any of us envisioned or hoped for and we are all upset for what it means to you the seniors of 2020. I just want you all to know that we love you, we care about you and that we’re hoping and praying that we can get back to continue with some of the activities that seniors should get to be a part of.

“My pledge to you is that we will do everything we can to make some of those things happen. Obviously some of those things are going to be way beyond my control, even Mr. Burton’s control – it goes to a much higher level.

“You were born around a time of crisis in our country, around the 9-11 time, you’re graduating high school during one of the greatest American crises ever ….

“Again seniors, we love you, we are thinking about you, and we are still working on things that we can do to make this senior year be something you won’t forget in other ways.”