Huntley 158 families,

The week of Thanksgiving traditionally plays a big symbolic and practical role in the school year, as time to take a break, take a breather, and look back at the challenges and accomplishments since the beginning of the school year. It’s natural that most schools hold parent-teacher conferences around this time, as we will on Monday and Tuesday next week. 

It also plays a role in our everyday lives as a time to reflect on the past, focus on the things for which we can be grateful in the present, and look to the future with a renewed sense of hope and gratitude. 

This year, perhaps more than any in recent memory, those roles of the upcoming holiday take on an outsized importance. With so many individuals and families struggling, with so many of us pushed to the brink as our world continues to grapple with unprecedented disruption, with so much to be angry, upset, stressed, and disagreeable about, it’s my sincere hope that we all can find at least a degree of respite in the coming days.

I’m not going to advise anyone on what they should be grateful for. I know that there’s more than enough going on for most of us to fill our plates with resentment, with no room left for gratitude. I understand that many are struggling so much that to muster any portion of gratitude is simply too much to ask. Therefore, I ask your indulgence as I share a few thoughts of what I am grateful for, and what our community can be grateful for. 

Numerous studies in medical journals have noted the positive mental and physical health benefits of actively practicing gratitude. Acts like keeping a regular journal of things you’re grateful for, writing thank-you letters to the unsung people you appreciate, and simply taking time to express gratitude to partners, co-workers, and employees, can make a large positive impact on relationships and productivity.

So I thank you for allowing me this space to engage in a small act of gratitude here.

  • Parents and families: THANK YOU. You have taken on more than you bargained for, more than you likely could have imagined, in guiding your students’ learning this year. Yes, when we become parents we are taking an unsigned vow to provide for our children’s needs, regardless of circumstances. But we do so knowing that our society provides for many of these needs through the public school system.

    That system has been unmistakably disrupted in every corner of our country, and much has fallen to you to make it happen. And YOU have made it happen so far. YOU have advocated for your children, YOU have reached out for help, YOU have supported us educators in a thousand ways big and small. And I thank all of you for what you have done so far. 
  • Teachers and staff: THANK YOU. You have been pushed and pulled to the brink of your abilities throughout this year, and you have handled it with professionalism, grace, and courage. You’ve been asked to completely reform what you do on a day-to-day basis, while making contingency plans to be implemented if needed with little turnaround time.

    You’re working in a new environment, pioneering new methods, technology, and practices, and you have dived in head first. Please let me say it clearly: I APPRECIATE YOU. A silver lining of this experience may be the general understanding our society has found about just how hard it really is to do your job, even for one student, let alone entire classrooms. Your work has inspired me every day, and I thank you for that and all you continue to do for our students. 
  • Students: THANK YOU. You are living through history, a time period that will be looked back upon and studied by the students who will be taking your places years from now. How you react to these challenges will be noted for future generations, and you are writing the story of how you rose to the occasion.

    You have experienced a major shift in how you’re expected to learn, gone without so many of the day-to-day experiences that have been key to your lives so far, and sacrificed for the common good. I thank you for your resilience, your patience, your commitment, and your inspiring example, for me, and for the future students of Huntley 158. 
  • Our community: THANK YOU. You have continued to support us in so many ways, while experiencing so many struggles of your own. You continue to provide for us and our families the necessities, nourishment, and neighborliness that are vital to making it through each day.

    Personally, I feel blessed to be working and living in this community that I chose for my family more than a decade ago. While our community is not immune to the larger forces of divisiveness and negativity dominating our national dialogue, I have every confidence that our extraordinary community will emerge from this crisis united, stronger than ever, thanks to YOU.

I’ll conclude this message with a few updates:

Food Services Curbside and Delivery Paused Next Week

The meal distribution (curbside and delivery) services that have been ongoing throughout the pandemic period will not be available November 23-27 and will resume November 30. In addition, services will be paused over the winter holiday break (December 21-January 1, resuming January 4).

Tier 3 Mitigations

Many of you likely read the Tier 3 mitigation strategies recently released by the State. This most recent update has little impact on school districts, which continue to be encouraged to work with local and county health departments on determining operations. As of now, we will continue to look forward to a planned hybrid return for the second semester.

Weekly Inspiration

With the pandemic pausing face-to-face experiences such as job shadowing and mentoring opportunities, students in the Huntley High School Medical Academy are exercising a different muscle to build their communication skills. 

Teacher Renae St. Clair has set up a program to pair up students with residents of Sun City Huntley to exchange old-fashioned letters in the mail. It’s a non-technological solution in what is becoming a very high-tech field.

“One of the things our students are lacking right now with all of the technology is the ability to just have a conversation,” St. Clair told the Sun Day News. “And if you’re going into healthcare, that’s what you’re going to be doing, dealing with patients that you’ve never met before.”

The “Pen Pal” program has thus far attracted about 30 students, and the school is seeking more volunteers. If you know someone interested in being a Pen Pal, please reach out Ms. St. Clair. Read more here »

I wish a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In sincere gratitude,

Scott Rowe, Ed.D.