The 2021-2022 school year is here! Welcome back to our Blue Streaks students, families, and staff! Our summer was quite busy as we prepared to open schools during the continuation of the pandemic, while also embracing the busier pace that a school year traditionally brings.
A Special Thank You
Thank you to all of our staff, families, community members, and local organizations who offered assistance to our students this summer through the provision of free breakfast and lunch (for a total of 31,970 meals!), clothing and personal hygiene items (for our Rachel’s Closets and school pantries), and school backpacks filled with school supplies. These generous donations are greatly appreciated by so many people. We also want to thank our local ministerium as well as the Lancaster Sunrise Rotary Club for their continued support of our school district. These collective efforts, from this past June through the end of August, helped our students and their families prepare for the new school year.
A More “Normal” School Year
We had a wonderful first week of the school year. It was heartwarming to see the “smizing” (the term for ‘smiling with your eyes’ due to mask wearing) of our students, staff and administrators while visiting all of the schools this past week. I too was smiling/smizing – at the promise and hope of what a new school year brings. The pandemic aside, each school year brings the element of change – for some students this change evokes excitement; for others it brings apprehension and uneasiness, but It is truly remarkable how navigating the pandemic has built resiliency in our students. They are gritty (one of my favorite synonyms for ‘resiliency’) and courageous – and way more flexible than I was at their age.
This school year is an important year for our students of all ages; it’s the year that hopefully brings more normalcy and peace. Providing students with a “more normal school year” (the term ‘normal’ being both relative and subjective) is so important to their cognitive and social development. In order for this to occur, we are using a layered approach of mitigation strategies for safety within the schools, while still facilitating a normal day. The more students feel safe and comfortable within their learning environments, the less anxiety and stress they may experience. This sense of normalcy involves the safe return of structure and routines associated with a typical school schedule, and the predictability of the daily expectations for academic learning and behavior.
Equally important for students is the social interactions experienced throughout the school day. Friendships are initiated and developed while students are in the classroom, cafeteria, and athletic/extracurricular activities. They learn how to effectively interact with each other, as well as the adults in the building, and benefit greatly from the exposure to other people’s perspectives, customs, and beliefs. Limiting social interactions can have a lasting negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of students. For students who are participating full-time in our Manheim Township Virtual Academy (MTVA) this year, we encourage you to get involved in extracurricular activities, outside of school/community activities, etc., that promote socialization with others.
This year we have a heightened focus on social-emotional learning and the mental health of students. Positive mental health involves the presence of positive emotions and healthy functioning within the school setting and in the community. Our school counselors, psychologists, and social workers have/will continue to provide ongoing targeted support that promotes positive mental health and wellbeing. They are dedicated to helping students address their stressors and learn coping strategies that promote positive mental health. Class meetings, advisory periods, and other planned activities will also offer a venue to provide students with additional supports. Recognizing that there are students who have not physically been in our schools since March 2020 due to the pandemic, we are prepared to provide the supports needed to assist in their successful transition back to the school setting.
We are Blue Streaks Strong! #MTProud #MTStrong #MTJourney