Friday Letter

March 27, 2020

Dear Parents,

Let's start off with some positive call-outs!  Despite the heartbreaking and abrupt termination of the KSHSAA Basketball tournament after a decisive Seabury win in the first round, our varsity boys basketball team certainly proved to be impressive this year.  They were ranked #1 over the entire season and remained the highest seeded team in the Final Four until the tournament was cancelled.  And we dominated the sports section of the LJWorld this week with the announcement of junior Zach Bloch as 2A Kansas Player of the Year and coach Jonathan Raney as 2A Coach of the Year.  Congratulations to Zach, Coach Raney, and the entire team, and we will be eager to see our team secure that championship next year!

Congratulations also to our Forensics squad!  Their year of competition ended far sooner than we expected, but they racked up an impressive collection of state qualifications and tournament awards in a short amount of time.  We will look forward to seeing them back in action next spring.

And congratulations to freshman Edie Patterson for winning the National Gold Medal in fiction from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards!  Award recipients will be recognized at a National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in June. 

Like most schools in the country, we have a range of sports and arts activities that were not allowed to compete or have their productions this year.  I am saddened that our students will not be able to display their talents in this way over the next few months, but we hope to give them other outlets to express themselves, and we look forward to stellar work from them when we pick up our sports, arts, and other programs in the fall.

Many teachers and students want to know if we will have a Stepping-Up and Commencement ceremony at the end of the school year.  I feel deeply for our seniors, and they know that we will do everything we can to celebrate them and their achievements at BSA.  I intend to do whatever I can to have a Stepping-Up ceremony, but the fluidity of our present situation is such that I cannot possibly create any plans.  We will need to wait and see where we are in May. 

On Tuesday, I sent the Distance Learning Program to parents and students, and it is also posted on our school website.  On Thursday, teachers communicated details about their individual courses directly to their students, and students have been invited to reach out to teachers with any questions.  I have a feeling we are all suffering from "In-Box Fatigue," but my staff is erring on the side of more communication with students right now.  Once courses resume next week, communication will be stream-lined, especially with our Monday morning online check-ins.  It is also my hope to channel most parent communications into the Friday Letter going forward.

We are feeling quite confident about the Distance Learning Program roll-out on Monday, but we can expect a few bumps and adjustments over the first week or two.  We will be hosting a Parent Open Forum on BSA Distance Learning on Tuesday night from 6-7 pm on Zoom: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/414523325.  This is an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the Program.  Also, as instructed in the Program overview, parents should direct general questions about the Middle School Program to Krista Barbour (kristabarbour@seaburyacademy.org) and to Kara Schrader (karaschrader@seaburyacademy.org) regarding Upper School.  Questions about specific classes should be directed to the teachers of those courses.  And questions about technology should be directed to Steve Kellogg (stevekellogg@seaburyacademy.org).  Please keep messages brief and essential.

I encourage parents to ensure that students have a productive work environment (quiet but not necessarily isolated if supervision is warranted), a routine and regular schedule (including a morning check-in, regular study periods, scheduled beaks, and bedtimes), and an "under my roof" policy on phone and social media usage.  Encourage opportunities for both outdoor play and positive socialization.  As a general rule, I want to remind parents not to jump in too quickly when students are frustrated with a lesson.  Productive struggle is essential to learning, and students learn resilience when they sit with a difficult problem and have to problem-solve independently.  Of course, if your child is feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, reach out to the teacher for support.

BSAP will be hosting its first Zoom Parents' Night Program on Monday, April 6th at 6:30 pm.  Dr. D.A. Graham will lead discussion about how parents can support more effective communication and understanding between family members.  Feel free to look at the attached flyer!

Bishop Seabury will be refunding a portion of your lunch fee and your equipment/activity fee to you.  For those families who pay monthly, going forward, you will not be invoiced for either of these fees for April, May, and June.  For families who are semester/annual payers, you will receive a refund for the lunch and equipment/activity fees not used for April, May, and June.  For returning student(s), the refund will be credited to your account.  If your student is not returning to BSA for the next school year, you will receive a refund in the mail.  Class Form trip money received will also be refunded via a check in the mail.  If you are in a position to refuse this refund and would like to donate this money back to the school, please notify Mrs. Aul, by Tuesday, March 31st at lisaaul@seaburyacademy.org.   

Finally, I have written often about looking after our children during this present crisis and time of anxiety, but I am aware that parents are also struggling with an array of challenges.  Many of us have adult support structures in place, but I expect some of you are feeling alone and beleaguered right now.  I do hope that you will consider reaching out if you ever need help or need to talk to someone.  If possible, I will help to arrange practical support, and at the very least, I am always able to listen.

I will end with a prayer from the Rev. Daniel Heischman, Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools:

During this time of physical isolation and continuing distance, help us to keep our relationships and community strong; bless our alumni, families, friends, and all who support us; guide our teachers and our students in their new adventure of "distance learning;" keep everyone safe at home and at school; and give us your gifts of faith, of perspective, gratitude, and courage—so that we may face our own challenges gracefully and respond generously to the challenges of others.

I promise much shorter Friday Letters moving forward.

Yours respectfully,

Dr. Schawang