01 Jul

Message from Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Upper School Families,

Spring has turned to summer, and I have been looking back to see where the time has gone from March 12 to now. That was the last day we were in school together, and the time that has flown by so quickly seems simultaneously like so long ago. Our world has changed pretty dramatically in these months, and the summer does bring some time to reflect on that, much as we are already deeply into planning what the fall might look like for our school, and for society in general. 

We’ll have more to say about the fall in a few days, and you’ll hear from Dr. De Jarnett with our current thinking, but I wanted to take a moment to look back over the last few months and comment on how adept our students were at struggling through the simultaneous difficulties with which they were presented. The pandemic was certainly enough for them to process, and without a longer term perspective on world issues it was hard for them to see how this moment in time compared to other crises that the world has endured, and pulled out of in some ways better off than before. We hope this is the case with COVID-19, but that does remain to be seen, and what happens in the next few weeks nationally with the data on the coronavirus’ transmission will determine a lot about how we are able to return in the fall.

Then you add the dramatic international reactions to the horrific racist murders of George Floyd and others, and your children had a very emotionally challenging ending to an already tough semester. We tried the best we could, considering that we were all at home, to provide some safe space to talk, and many of your children took the opportunity to come to meetings and participate in the different kinds of conversations that took place. Because of student interest, some of those groups are continuing into the summer, and that will help us be more prepared for the fall when school starts again, in whatever form that takes. Please read the letter from Dr. Mirangela Buggs, our Director of Equity and Diversity Inclusion (click here), that summarizes what we have been doing on the subject of race, what we are asking the faculty to do over the summer, and what we anticipate starting in the fall. Having seen the comments from the #blackatdwightenglewood Instagram site, we know how important this work is, more so than ever.

In terms of fall athletics, we remain in a holding pattern until we see what the regulations are from public health officials and the state, and we consider what makes the most sense for the School. This will not be an easy decision, and should we be able to offer our fall competitive athletic program, there will certainly be various restrictions on what is allowed, so that we do not violate any of the necessary health and safety rules that have allowed the case numbers in our area to decline. 

That vigilance will remain critical throughout next year, and as you will hear more about in several days, our life in school will necessarily be altered to accommodate our mutual health and safety. And while it may feel quite different, at least we hope to be somewhat physically together, if in smaller groups than usual, but being able to be on campus.

Many thanks again for your support of our work with your children. Your responses to the various surveys and questionnaires were critical in the decisions we made to schedule and then reschedule the school, and to help keep students engaged while understanding the surreal factors that were impeding on our regular learning. There will likely be more moments where we check in and ask your opinions as we prepare for September.

Best wishes for some relaxation and rest, and times with less stress.

Sincerely,

Joe Algrant,

US Principal

P.S. A quick note for all Junior (Class of 2021) Families: You should have received by now an Email  from the College Counseling Office (CCO) about Summer college admissions preparations (click here to view). I encourage you to also (if you missed it) watch the video of a recent CCO-hosted Zoom session, featuring Adam Ingersoll (Compass Education Group) on the topic of standardized testing and the impact of COVID-19.