May 26, 2020
It has been three months since my last "normal" monthly message to the Cardinal community and I am joyful in sending this one to you. To begin the 2019-20 school year, everyone was full of excitement and expecting a year full of learning opportunities within the school building and on the fields of play. For the first three quarters of the school year, that is what we had. Heading into spring break week, our school was buzzing with excitement about a 2nd place boys finish in district basketball and looking forward to the inaugural season of Osborn/Stewartsville baseball. Teachers were in the groove of teaching, and students were preparing to excel on their end of year testing. Our agriculture education students were cranking up for a spring full of career development events, and the band was ready to blow the competition away during their concert band performances.
Then, what seemed like a freight train of information began to swarm, and we were told that the world was setting up for a major pandemic. The week before spring break, March 9-13, school leaders across the country began to discuss the possibility of needing to close schools for a short time. The thought was we needed to do so to allow the health systems to prepare for an unknown virus and allow schools to set up protocols for how we would keep students safe upon a return to school. Well, we know how this worked out. We left school on March 13, and we have yet to return to normalcy. Overnight teachers become e-learning instructors. Parents became home school teachers, and students became isolated in a social distancing self quarantining environment. It is safe to say that the world in which we live has changed, and it is not sure how we will move forward from what is now known as a COVID-19 world. For the last quarter of the school year, we had to make multiple changes to the calendar.
The saddest part of the changes made is not that we canceled student activities or that students became homeschoolers. The saddest part is for our graduating class of 2020 and our retirees. Students and staff members alike attend school daily with the anticipation of having their final chapter written while in the building around the people who have helped to mold them into who they are for so many years. Sadly, this was taken from them, and there is no way to get it all back. Fortunately for our community, we have a secure connection to each other, and everyone was committed to finding a way to celebrate our seniors and retirees. We, as staff members, came together on May 22 for the last scheduled day of school and ate lunch together as a whole team for the 1st time in over 70 days. We also celebrated the conclusion of what was a fantastic year, and we paid tribute to our fantastic team members who are retiring with a combined 168 years of service to public education. Even more awesome, than that was how our school community came together to celebrate our graduating class of 2020. We as a school community were determined to provide our seniors the graduation they deserved so much that we changed the date four times to make sure that we could celebrate their day with all of them and their families together at one time. So on May 23, we made history and had the first-ever known outdoor graduation at the Stewartsville School. The day was full of excitement and love for each other and our school.
All in all, COVID-19 has taken its toll on our school and community, whether it is the closure of the school building and local business to the number of people who have suddenly found themselves without employment. Make no mistake though the Stewartsville community is stronger for it, and we will continue to prosper as we move beyond our current situation.
In closing, I believe we, as members of the Stewartsville community, need to be proud of the commitment to ensure our students prosper. After all, our students become the fabric that holds our community together and make no mistake our school will be ready to open and greet our students once more come August 24, 2020.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I am here to serve our students and you as members of the Cardinal community.
We look forward to seeing you at #TheNest.
Michael Stephenson, Superintendent