2020-06-10 Update - COVID-19 - Day 52 - Power of We

Good evening and happy June. I have just a few exciting updates for the Board tonight.
 
First, I want to thank our high school administrators and staff for the work that they have done to honor our 2020 graduates.  In the middle of a state closure and global health issue, they put together a plan to visit every single graduate, at their homes, honoring their achievement. The procession began yesterday, continued today, and will extend for the remainder of the week. If inclement weather should interfere, we will move the schedule.
 
Busses, staffed by administrators, teachers and support staff, and even members of our Board and filled with a variety of keepsakes and memorabilia connected to this year’s graduates could be seen through the district, making the rounds and honoring every single graduate. They have been joined by members of the Bridgewater and Raritan police departments and our local firehouses. I wanted to share feedback from Ms. DeBonis, a teacher at BRHS and one of the staff members who rode today. She sent me this via email:
 
Hello All. 
Today was such a wonderful experience and I thank you for allowing the teachers to be a part of this!  To the Admin Staff - great job organizing this.  I know there were many hours spent planning the routes, organizing the lists, and assembling the materials.   Shout out to Zamrok for the little push for me to sign up!  I am so happy I did it. 
 

Just let it be known that ALL, and I mean ALL the families were so complimentary and thankful!!  
 

Here are a few tidbits from the day. 

  • "Loved the personal experience"
  • Former Grads who were there "Wished they had this!
  • We were "Zoomed" to other parts of the world.
  • Entire streets were there to celebrate and cheer on the graduates.
  • We were offered water, sandwiches, cupcakes and even a cash tip!  None of which we accepted:)
  • We had DJ's blasting Pomp and Circumstance, followed by dance music.
  • Watching the pride of the older generations was awe-inspiring.  
  • Neighbors who came out to celebrate
  • Young children clapping and screaming out the windows.
  • Pictures with the Police Car were a hit! 
  • We learned how to fasten the entire banner with bungee cords when two of our hooks broke on the first stop!!  Thanks to the parents and neighbors who supplied the extra bungee cords.

Thanks again for all your hard work and the opportunity.  I truly believe today is something the class of 2020 will remember!

 Thank you, Kathy, for this feedback, and for all of your efforts today for our students.
 
The feedback from those visited has been overwhelmingly positive and evidence again that our high school team, like the rest of our district, is committed to our students. Social media is full of the celebrations that took place. I want to thank all of the residents and families who made this such a success and who continued to do so safely. I want to thank all of the staff members who have volunteered for this week, including the mayor of Raritan and one of our own BRHS teachers, Mr. Bray. I want to thank the parent organizations that continue to work with the high school staff to plan and execute this work. And I want to thank Ms. Zamrok, Mr. Dragon, and Drs. Godown, Greenburg, and Ezell (all three have done this while assisting with food service throughout the closure). We are not done, but our current course could not have been more effectively charted and sailed. 
 
That said, we received more good news. The governor has removed the staff-at-home order, allowing us to travel. He reiterated, though, the importance of continued precautionary actions and community collaboration and he shared a timeline of ever-increasing outdoor gathering numbers. These numbers are all-inclusive, so even 500 is limiting for a school our size, but the target helps our planning and gives hope that we may be approved for even more as the weeks go by.
 
This announcement helps us as we continue to plan for a possible event in July to allow our seniors to celebrate together. I have communicated again with Mr. McVerry of the Somerset Patriots and they will be working with our high school team in the event that the restrictions continue to ease and we can bring together the full class with family, as we believe that their stadium allows us to manage a crowd that large in the safest way possible. We also continue with two separate plans that would allow our students to celebrate with each other if the number for outdoor gatherings has not been increased at that time. Part of this work includes our collaboration with Bridgewater Township as we always have their support with police and emergency responders. Each of these plans may be modified for state approval based on the conditions one week prior to the event. Coordinating with those involved, we are hopeful to release both a date and a designated rain date for a possible event. This information, as all information to this point about any school, will come from the building principal. 
 
There has been a great deal of collaboration, as I have spoken with the township administrator who again voiced the township’s commitment to help in any way. That commitment was visible yesterday and today as we moved about Bridgewater and Raritan visiting our graduates’ houses. 
 
The district has, from the beginning, worked to plan for our graduates, and the news from the governor is encouraging. This includes all of our students celebrating this month. Please join us in a community Clap out.  In the words of our principals:
 
To celebrate our graduates from every school, we are asking that at 1:00pm on June 23, 2020 your family step outside to join in the well deserved clap off as recognition of our tremendous Class of 2020! 

While this is certainly different than our typical send off that carries our students into the summer, it will keep everyone safe. Time and time again, whatever the obstacle, together, we have proven that we are resilient, creative and B-R strong.

And it all begins with just one clap….
 
We are also celebrating our BRHS graduates on that day as well, first with our virtual ceremony at 5:30 p.m. and then with their own, separate community celebration at 8:20 p.m. (20:20). We hope everyone in Bridgewater and Raritan join in as we honor our students by going outside and making noise. 
 
We will continue to communicate, as we have throughout, when there is verified information. I want to thank the overwhelming majority of community members, family members, and students who have patiently and positively engaged in our process and remained confident that we remain committed to our students and our mission.
 
Speaking of our mission, I do want to address the ongoing events across our country and across the world now by referencing my last communication. Our strategic language, our mission, our values, our actions and our goal, they were not written by one person, they were written by the BRRSD community, and if you read them, it is clear what we stand for. We need to keep those words in our minds at all times. Better than most, they lay out the type of community everyone should strive to be a part of. They should not only be a guide and an aspiration for us, they should make people in this community proud to be in this community, proud that this language states clearly for all, what we are about. I have shared resources for our families and students who are asking difficult questions and having difficult conversations. And I have shared our thinking as we live through these difficult times, working to be better as a community… as a We. That statement is on the main page of our website.
 
Finally, as we prepare to close down the year, to all of our students and families, to our incredible staff, thank you for working to make this community all it is. Information will continue to come from the district as appropriate, but more importantly from each of our buildings as we go through our final aspects of closing our schools for the year in the most positive, celebratory, and safe way.
 
I continue to work with our staff to plan not only for summer, but for September and the variety of ways we will seek to open. Every day is an adventure and we are not wasting any of them; we continue to plan now for tomorrow.
 

Russell M. Lazovick
Superintendent of Schools


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