Keep those corsages and graduation cards handy. Nauset Regional High School is planning a prom and a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.
“The last week in July, we’re hoping to have a prom as scheduled, a yearbook signing dinner at the high school, and an outdoor graduation celebration on the stadium field,” Principal Chris Ellsasser told the regional school committee last week.
As for the classes of 2021 through 2024, “We’ve already started conversations about next year,” he said. “We will need a remote version [of instruction], a blended version, face-to-face, and one that does all three. We’re establishing a committee of families representing each grade level to talk about school-family communication and what things families need.”
Concurrent with planning for the fall are efforts to educate and look out for 950 students now. “Our major challenge is the balance of continuing to challenge students while also caring for them,” Ellsasser told the committee on May 14. “Each one needs something different.”
When staff learn that a student is struggling, he said, “They reach out to the adjustment counselor. We organize a circle of support around that kid and family. … Counseling is a very important part of what we’re doing. More kids need it than not.”
During the last week of school, students will be asked their views on how remote learning worked this semester. Department chairs will talk about best practices and identify staff members who can provide support to colleagues.
“What we don’t want to do is leave the building in June hoping it will all take care of itself when we come back,” Ellsasser said. “We’d like people to go away feeling confident that we’re ready no matter what the fall looks like.”
The committee also heard from Greg Levasseur, chair of the Nauset Regional High School Building Committee. He said the four member towns are looking to deal with the renovation project at fall town meetings and place debt exclusion questions for bonding on the Nov. 3 presidential ballot. That would require the building committee to go back to the Mass. School Building Authority (MSBA), which has extended its deadline for a final vote to Nov. 1, and try to stretch the time out to around Nov. 22.
Levasseur plans to meet with Eastham Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe and the project manager “to put down a bunch of scenarios and possible dates” and bring that information to the regional committee in June. “The whole thrust is to make sure there are no targets missed so that we don’t inadvertently lose the $36 million grant from the MSBA.” (The district’s four towns would contribute $95 million more, based on enrollment.)
“A Nov. 3 vote is possible if, by Aug. 1, the four towns request from the commonwealth the permission to add a ballot question on the presidential ballot,” Levasseur said. “That’s why we have to have a discussion of the possibilities.”
The regional committee’s meeting included a virtual round of applause for Susan Murray, the system’s director of food and nutrition services, after Supt. Tom Conrad announced that she had been named New England Regional Director of the Year by the national School Nutrition Association. During the pandemic, Murray has overseen “grab and go” free breakfasts and lunches for anyone 18 and younger at four of the system’s elementary schools, as well as a program that prepares meals delivered by council on aging volunteers to shut-in adults.
The effort will continue until the end of June, when Nauset will team up once again with the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, which runs the summer meals program.