Class of 2021...
Well, it may be hard to believe but we have made it to the final week of the 2020-2021 school year and the final week of school for our soon to be RFA graduates, the Class of 2021. As this group of students entered 9th grade, no one would have ever known what their high school experience would entail. While last year's senior class was certainly disrupted, and every student 11th grade and below currently was disrupted, no group of students has had their high school experience impacted more than this current group. Yet, one can argue that no group of graduating students has ever achieved more and been better prepared for the real world than this group of students. They have endured a pandemic which at the onset left them as students better prepared for the new learning environment than many of us adults. Shortly thereafter, they were thrust into a national controversy over social justice and basic human rights. A topic that can easily divide communities and students, but this group rallied together and used the moment in history as an opportunity to bring people together. Also within their time, perhaps one of the country's most polarizing presidential election followed by an attack on our nations capital for the first time in any of our life times. Again, all handled by our students with tremendous maturity. Then, to wrap up the last 18 months of literal chaos, these students did not complain, did not push, did not make demands as to how and when they can have some senior celebrations as restrictions for COVID in NY began to ease. Instead, they went to work to problem solve to figure out exactly how they could make more with less. There is not one single thing about the RFA Class of 2021 that anyone can point to and say that these students are not ready to be the future leaders of our community and country. They have persevered through more as teenagers than most any other adult in recent times. They have done it with grace. They have done it with dignity. They have done it with laughter. They have done it with compassion. There is no doubt that being a student during the COVID situation could be viewed as having been a negative and having lost out on things. However, I would argue, that this group of students graduating high school next week are better prepared to face the world than any group of graduates prior. They have learned collaboration skills, they have learned independence, they have learned time management, they have learned skills about how to maneuver the uncontrollable, and they have learned how to be flexible and adjust at a moments notice. Now, none of this may have been a part of the planned curriculum or a desired outcome of their education, but it was. This group of graduates, the Class of 2021, is destined to do great things and I can only hope that we as adults have learned from the lessons that they have unintentionally taught us, as they have learned ABC's and 123's from us. Congratualtions to the Rome Free Academy Class of 2021 and I wish you all the best for a bright and prosperous future!!
Fortunately, we have major changes to our graduation guidance. As mentioned earlier this week by the NYSDOH, all outdoor ceremonies will have minimal restrictions in place. At this point, the only restriction we have is that unvaccinated people are required to wear a mask to the ceremony (students and visitors). All other restrictions are lifted. Therefore, there is no limit on capacity and no need for distancing. The ceremony will occur in our normal traditional way. We have one request of families for after the ceremony. Due to the new track, we ask that anyone entering the field for pictures after the ceremony please do so by crossing the track on one of the covered walkways that will be provided. We are simply trying to protect the track and ensure that we get the longevity out of it that is expected. Also, for any person entering the field, please know that heels of any kind on the new turf will sink all the way through the surface and we caution anyone walking on the field with heels. Aside from simple reminders, everything is a go with no other restrictions.
Parent Square Reminder
IMPORTANT REMINDER! Parent Square is coming!! Beginning on July 1, 2021 the Rome City School District will be moving to Parent Square as our mode of push communication to families and staff, replacing our current SchoolMessenger. Parent Square has many more options, including two-way opportunities for families to communicate with schools and teachers. Parent Square also has many teacher resources for easily communicating with parents and students, that we will begin rolling out in the Fall. You should have received an email with an invitation to Parent Square this past week. It is essential that you activate your account and adjust your settings to your preferred modes of communication and times. For more information, including resources for how to activate your account and how to use Parent Square, please visit our website at https://www.romecsd.org/news_page/introducing_parent_square.
Sextortion Concerns in New York
As we enter the summer and students are more disconnected from school and independent, I want to make folks aware of social media situations involving mostly middle school students, but certainly all teenagers can be a target. Sextortion is nothing new to social media, but it is spiking in relation to children (specifically teenagers) being targeted. Sextorition involves a predator (posing as another teenager and in some cases they are actual teenagers/students themselves) convincing a child to send them nude pictures on social media and then asking for a large sum of money to not make the pictures public. This act is causing many children to take their lives over the situation. This article: https://www.nyssba.org/news/2021/06/14/on-board-online-june-14-2021/sextortion-threatens-students-claims-lives/ was published by NY School Boards Assocation to call attention to the situation in NY. As summer begins, please keep your childs' social media in the front of your mind.