Superintendent Behm and the FHPS Administration:
Never in our lifetimes have we faced a challenge quite like this. It is not uncommon for a disaster to strike a community perhaps once in a generation, but for a crisis of this magnitude to affect every single corner of the earth is unheard of.
In an email to the Herald, Ms. Pallo, principal of Eastern High School, spoke about what the pandemic means for the remainder of the year. “The hardest part about all of this is that there is so much out of our control, so making plans for things like Prom and Commencement are impossible right now. We are committed to finding a way to host these events if at all possible. They may be later in the summer, and they may look completely different. We will look at all of our options because we desperately want to provide these opportunities for our seniors!! The Class of 2020 deserves to be celebrated, whenever that may be possible.”
As outgoing seniors, we recognize the steps that FHPS is trying to take for our well-being. We recognize that staff is working to build a “completely” new way school operates, and as seniors, we may feel more pressure because so much is at stake for us. We also recognize that Government Agencies will likely have a final say in any of these ideas. Beyond what is already in the works, here are a few examples of what we believe the district should consider in supporting the students:
- If needed, senior commencement should be postponed, not canceled, and moved to a date in the summer after the threat of the virus is lowered. Commencement should remain live and in-person rather than digitally posted online. The Class of 2020 deserves equal recognition as every other class was given.
- Lunch money, dues for spring sports and clubs, and fees for the other activities like the Senior All-Night Party and Senior Dinner Dance should be fully refunded to FHE families. During a crisis like this where the unemployment rate is skyrocketing like never before seen, families need financial assistance to help navigate their day-to-day costs during this quarantine.
- There should be an online recognition on the FHPS website for all spring extracurricular groups who did not get a chance to perform this spring. This includes sports players, musicians, and school-run clubs.
- There should be an online recognition (much like the Senior Recognition Assembly that would usually occur during an assembly in May) on the FHPS website of seniors from all three schools available to view by friends and family who will no longer be able to attend commencement because of the virus.
- All students should have the opportunity to retake classes next semester that they were unable to fully complete in-person this year, including AP classes.
- Students should be allowed to ask for a pass/fail grade for any of their classes second semester of this year. When a student is at home and has to deal with the effects that the coronavirus might cause on his/her family, the district can help them cope with the stress is to allow them this option.
- FHPS/Department of Education should pay for one SAT or ACT test that any junior (incoming senior) decides to take over the summer or in the fall because the SATs were canceled with school closures.
- Online learning classes that are offered to seniors at the end of this year should end at the original May 8th senior deadline and not extend any further.
- Each school should give a time frame for a certain number of students to return and collect their belongings from the building. It is imperative that this is done in small groups to protect students and their families from spreading the virus.
- FHE should, in the future, offer three full-time counselors so that each student has an equal opportunity to speak with and meet with an advisor to help them with school-related and social issues. Just because a student’s last name starts with the letter M does not mean they should have half of the access to a counselor than a student whose last name starts with the letter A.
Without taking these steps, FHE students will be at a disadvantage in the coming year, the senior class will not receive the proper recognition that students deserve, and the families of students may struggle both emotionally and financially. We appreciate all of the communication that our teachers and Ms. Pallo have shared, and we know that many decisions are beyond the control of them.
Nathan La Huis and Josephine Ness