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A (unique) first year together, COVID-19, Juneteenth

One of the many reasons I love being in school is that the cadence and rhythm of school is so predictable. Even though the last three months have been wildly unpredictable, the feeling at the end of the school year is still the same. 

 

When I was teaching, each year my students would look at me and say, “C’mon Hardister, admit it, we are your favorite class,” hoping I would confess they were my favorites. My reply was always, and sincerely, “Every class is my favorite class.” I did really mean that. This is part of the hope and optimism that comes with being in a school. Each year we start a journey with our students and families. This journey is full of laughter, joy, tears, struggle, resilience, and reflection. We end each year wanting for renewal and rejuvenation so we can commit the energy and emotion that is so needed to create the meaningful connections that make us such a wonderful community. 

 

This year, for me of course, was the most unique year in my 25 years in schools. Let’s just say it: This has been a difficult and challenging year, like no other. I have felt at home here since the moment I walked onto campus a year and a half ago (Tony rightfully got fussy with me for not using a crosswalk during drop off). This community has shown great resolve, compassion, and resiliency over the past months -- three qualities we want our children to have as they leave our campus. I continue to be filled with pride to be part of such a wonderful community. 

 

At both the fifth grade celebration and the eighth grade graduation, I left our students with a quote from Michelle Obama that resonates with me as we enter into a summer and fall that feels very different than past summers and falls...

 

 “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once. But, don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.”

 

I hope we all strive to be courageous and hopeful as we plan for the future. I hope you all find quiet, rest, and rejuvenation over the next months. I am hopeful that I will see you all back on campus in September. For our families moving on to the next step in their child’s educational journey, thank you for your partnership and perseverance this past year. We wish you well and extend an open invitation to stay connected. You will always be a part of the FAIS family.

 

I’d like to close by acknowledging and reflecting on the importance of this day, beyond the official end of our school year. Today is Juneteenth: a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the US, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas, received word that they were, in fact, freed… more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

 

“Not even a generation out of slavery, African Americans were inspired and empowered to transform their lives and their country… The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times.” (National Museum of African American Art & Culture)

 

At FAIS, we often cite the part of our Vision that calls us to “help create a better and more peaceful world.” May the hope embodied in Juneteenth inspire all of us to be courageous in the face of injustice.