UPDATE: May 8, 2020
Hello Woodcrest Christian Community,
Since it’s been several weeks since my last update, I thought it would be helpful to provide you with some information as we come to the close of the 2019/2020 school year and as we look ahead to the next school year as well. Eight weeks ago our world was completely turned upside down with the onset of this Coronavirus. There was so much that we didn’t know. There was so much that nobody knew. And quite frankly there was a lot of concern and some fear over what this might mean for families, for individuals, obviously for schools and businesses all across the country. But what we do know was over these last eight weeks is that students and parents and teachers have come together and triumphed over it all. They have triumphed over the fear of the unknown. You have triumphed over the challenge of a new learning model that I know it has come with its challenges, but you all have done extraordinarily well in overcoming the obstacles and working together and helping each of our students continue their academic journey successfully through this year.
And I just want to say as of today, there are just 12 school days left. So hang in there, stay strong, persevere. It is almost over. We have all have triumphed over many disappointments along the way as well. Disappointments that we have faced individually as families and corporately as well as we have not been able to continue our traditional year end celebrations that allow us to honor and celebrate a successful completion of the academic school year as well as all of the accomplishments of our students. But as we approach the end of the school year, I know there are still a few more questions, so let me give you an update on a few things to help you know how to navigate these last 12 academic days left. Our principals have already begun to get information out to you regarding how we will close this school year.
I know some emails have already gone out by middle school and high school outlining some initial steps for final exams, for turning in textbooks, for cleaning out lockers, for picking up your books. And I know at the Day School, that information has started to come out and will come out in the days ahead as well. And so that will be important information to wrap up the learning process for this school year. But I also know that as we have navigated these last eight weeks, there have been a lot of questions about graduations and that has been on our hearts and our minds as it has been on your hearts and your minds as well. And it has been challenging to try to determine what we will do as the directors from our County health director and our governor have been in constant flux and changing it seems daily of people that can gather together to wearing masks to businesses open and closed.
Even today as I film this, our Riverside County Board of Supervisors is making a decision as to the latest adjustments that they might make to the policies that they have in place. And so with it all, we have been trying to determine what is best for our students, both in terms of celebrating their accomplishments as well as keeping everybody safe during this difficult time. And we have heard from you, many of you have reached out to us in a variety of ways and your strong desire to have as much as possible an in person traditional graduation ceremony. And that is something that we have wanted to because quite frankly a Woodcrest Christian graduation ceremony is a very special event. It really is a one of a kind event for those of you who have been to a one before, you know what I’m talking about. And it’s not something that can be duplicated with a drive-in or a virtual graduation ceremony. And while we don’t know exactly what will take place in the next several months, as restrictions continue to ease as the virus eventually works its way through its life cycle, we have growing confidence that we will be able to celebrate our students in the months ahead. And so as we anticipate a loosening of those restrictions over the next several weeks and months, especially in the area of permitted gatherings of people and the numbers that are allowed, we are excited to announce today that we have established and set dates for this year’s graduations. And while we have not noted a specific location yet or time of day as those will still yet to be determined, I do want to make sure that we give you that information as you will want to be able to make plans and arrangements.
Now these dates are predicated on the idea that the longer we wait, the greater likelihood that we are going to be able to celebrate in person as we have traditionally done. And again, while the gathering size may be a bit smaller, it at least will give us that opportunity to celebrate our students well. And so right now, July 21st will be our 12th grade graduation, July 22nd, our eighth grade graduation and July 23rd, our sixth grade graduation. For those of you who have been with the Woodcrest Christian school system for any length of time, know that that order is a little different. Normally we do six, eight 12, but this year we are going to start with our seniors in the rare event that after our first ceremony something changes and we may not be able to continue with the other two. We wanted to make sure that our high school seniors had close to a graduation ceremony as we could possibly give them.
And so those are our dates. July, 21, 22 and 23, 12th grade, eighth grade and sixth grade. We will be sending you more information via our principals in the weeks and months ahead as to location and time and any other specifics with the restrictions that we may still have to follow. But I wanted to make sure that you had those dates so that you could begin planning your summertime.
Even now, which brings us to next year. You may have heard earlier this week governor Newsom’s statement about possibly wanting to start school in July this summer to make up for the lost instruction time as a result of schools closing in March. In fact, on that same day, I read some recent research that suggested that students in California could lose 30% of their reading and 50% of their math gains that they would typically achieve in a school year due to the lack of instruction as a result of this school closures March 13th.
This is not the case for Woodcrest Christian students. And the reason why we continued our regular instruction during this fateful time with the commitment of our dedicated teaching staff and your faithful partnership, our students will not be behind academically, will not need to make up lost time in the summer and will be ready for school in the fall. But that brings us to what will school look like in the fall. And quite frankly, right now, nobody knows. There have been a lot of suggestions and ideas regarding social distancing and different schedules, but quite frankly all of those are impossibly difficult to actually carry out and so at this point while we do not know what school a will look like in the fall and we will continue to monitor the situation here in the County of Riverside and looking to see what the governor says for the state of California, we are planning to start school as scheduled on August 19th and provide our students the Christ centered education to which we have always committed.
I know that these last eight weeks have been especially challenging for all of us in many ways and I want to thank you for all of your support and for your confidence in our staff as we have labored together to bring this school year to a successful completion. The outreach, even this week, a teacher appreciation week, just so many of our teachers has been especially gratifying and welcome and again, thank you for that.
I want to remind our families even as we continue to finalize this school year, that if you are being impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, that we are still providing and offering emergency academic tuition assistance and that you can access the form on our COVID-19 webpage and we can be able to join you and help you out in being able to successfully complete this year financially.
You know, there are times in our nation’s history when certain events define a generation and this is going to be one of those times and while the months ahead we’ll continue to bring their own changes and challenges, I know that God will continue to see you and us through all of them and continue to provide strength and courage and encouragement for each of us. You know, recently I was looking at Psalm 46 which begins this way: “God is our refuge and strength and ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gave way, the mountains fall into the heart of the sea though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” And then in verse 10 it says, “Be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted among the nations and I will be exalted in the earth.” What great words of comfort as we continue and finalize these this last school year. Again, thank you for your confidence. Thank you for your partnership and may God bless you in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you.
James F. Sullivan, Superintendent
Woodcrest Christian School System
Glorify God by Pursuing Excellence in Christ-centered Academics