Greetings Colts and Colt Families,
We are off on this crazy, challenging, changing year. There are many questions all of us have about how this year will proceed and what is in store for students and families. Many of these questions have not been answered, while others are becoming more clear:
- When will we be back at school?
- Will there be any sports or activities?
- Is there going to be a graduation, prom, homecoming, plays, or concerts?
Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL)
Getting started with online learning has gotten off to a much better start than last spring. Students seem much more familiar and comfortable with Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) and Google Classrooms. Staff are working very hard to develop, deliver, and engage students in meaningful lessons. Converting lessons experienced in the classroom to lessons watched on a screen is challenging. Getting students to react and engage is even more of a challenge. Here are some things staff are working on to improve as we navigate this fall are:
Although overall attendance in classes has remained steady at over 90%, engagement between students and with staff remains low. Staff are encouraging students to do the following to make the learning (and the teaching) more meaningful:
- Turn cameras on – Staff likes to see the faces of the students they are teaching. Teachers respond to the verbal and non-verbal cues they get from their classes to help check for understanding, as well as, shifting the focus of the lesson. When possible, students are asked to please turn their cameras on and interact with each other and their teachers. Encouraging your students to turn their cameras on and interact will add to the educational experience and make CDL a lot more like being here at THS.
- Set a personal photo as their avatar – Some students have logos, sports teams, cartoons, pictures, etc., as their avatars when their cameras are off. Students are asked to use their own picture to set as their avatar. This helps the teacher see you and classmates get to know you better.
- Use the chat function – When students are in class, we would like to encourage them to ask questions of their teacher by using the chat box. Laughing at a teacher’s joke, make positive comments on peer statements, and participation will help build relationships and foster a sense of classroom community.
- Unmute your mic – When student are in class, we would like to also encourage them to ask questions of their teacher by unmuting their mic and engaging with their voice, make positive comments on peer statements, and add to classroom discussions; all of this will help build relationships and foster a sense of community.
- Contacting teachers – if you are unable to attend class “in-person”, please make sure to get in contact with your teachers via email or office hours before the next class period.
Athletics and Activities
School isn’t the same without having the opportunity to watch students pursue their passions. We know the heartbreak and anguish this is causing so many of the students here at THS. Although there are no official school-sanctioned activities taking place on campus at this time. Many sports and activities are finding ways to connect and perform either virtually or through the partnerships we have with Willamalane and Kidsports. To see what is going on, contact Athletic Director, Justin Starck (firstname.lastname@example.org), or club/activity advisors. For those of you new to THS, a list of sports, clubs, and activities can be found on our website: www.thscoltspace.com
At this point, we are still planning on starting winter sports on December 28th. The District will follow all procedures and safety protocols to insure the safety of our students and staff. Of course, we will be keeping an eye on the progress of the Covid-19 metrics and adhering to the guidelines established by the state. We will keep families and students up-to-date on the status of athletics and activities as we get closer to the start of the season.
Just like almost everything else at THS this year, the yearbook class is operating differently than normal. However, just like every year, a dedicated group of young people are seeking to find just the right words and images to capture the unique experiences of the school year. Here is what is currently know about the 2021 yearbook:
This year, we will be accepting personal photos for all students, not just seniors. Since no school photos were taken at registration, in order to be included in the class picture section of the yearbook, each student will need to supply an individual picture of themselves.
- Backgrounds should be a uniform, solid, or neutral color; outdoor backgrounds work as well.
- Props, or inappropriate clothing or poses will not be included in the book. Photos should be portrait style, with the student facing the camera.
- Copies of photos (from Facebook, for example) may upload, but show up blurry and pixelated. Please do not use them.
- Please enter student name, grade, and picture/ “mug shot” for description.
The yearbook staff must receive the finished photo by December 18th. This date will provide the staff enough time to follow up on any pictures that need to be reshot, as well build the pages and make their deadlines.
Yearbook pictures/”mug shots” can be submitted through this link:
Other Photo Submissions
In addition to class pictures, any photos you would like to include in the yearbook are also appreciated. Any images of your school year, on your own or with friends, will go a long way toward helping to tell the story of this year more personally. Please submit in the same way as your class picture, but include an email address in the description, so we can follow up with you for details.
If you have any questions, contact our yearbook advisor, Joe Roberson at –email@example.com
Quarter 1 Closing
The last day to submit late-work or to re-submit/revise previously submitted work is Friday, November 13th. Additional information about this policy can be found on course syllabi.
Quarter 1 Textbook Check-In – Quarter 2 Textbook Check-Out
Teachers will be communicating with their Quarter 1 classes what books need to be turned in at the end of Quarter 1 and what year-long textbooks will be kept for the year. Textbooks will be returned and picked-up in the horseshoe (where technology and textbooks were picked-up for Quarter 1) on the dates listed below.
Our library staff will be cleaning, disinfecting and checking returned textbooks in so we can redistribute them back to Quarter 2 students. Please see the following schedule for your student’s time to pick-up Quarter 2 books.
|Date||Who||When – Where|
|Wednesday, November 18th
Thursday, November 19th Friday, November 20th
|All Students Return Quarter 1 Textbooks
|10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Horseshoe (front of school)
|Thursday, December 3rd||Grades 9 and 10 Pick-up||10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Horseshoe (front of school)
|Friday, December 4th||Grades 11 and 12 Pick-up||10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Horseshoe (front of school)
|Monday, December 7th||Make-Up Date for Pick-up||8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Horseshoe (front of school)
Teacher Contact Days
In a normal year, we would be holding Parent-Teacher Conferences at the end of the first quarter, but due to our new schedule, classes will change at the end of Quarter 1. Because of this change, teachers will be using the afternoon of November 18th, the evening of the 19th, and the morning of the 20th to reach out to Quarter 2 students and families to introduce themselves and ask a few questions about Quarter 1 experiences.
Staff at THS can’t wait to get things back to normal. Schools just aren’t the same when they are not packed with students. Teachers are missing the interactions, relationships, and culture building opportunities which exist when they have a classroom full of students, a calendar packed with after-school events and activities, and the great satisfaction of watching young people develop into more responsible, engaged, and capable adults. Our District is working to utilize all resources available to return students to school when the opportunity is given to us. As new information is available, we will communicate it to our community.
Mental Wellness and Academic Supports
As we move towards the end of the Quarter 1 grading period, I also wanted to remind everyone that in the world of virtual learning, it may be challenging to not be able to walk into our Counseling Office, Tutoring Center, or Academic Learning Center to ask a question or get the type of support that many of our students utilized while physically at THS.
Especially during these times, it is normal to experience heightened levels of stress or anxiety. Student may be struggling with a class or learning on-line in general. Students may just need to talk to their counselor or go to a THS staff member to help ensure that their day is a good one. No matter what it is that may be affecting you, we want to remind you, that you are not alone during virtual learning. All teachers have regular virtual office hours from 2:30 pm-3:30 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Schedule a time to check-in, get help, or just visit for a while.
Our Student Services and Counseling Center are making efforts every day to support THS students and are here to support students and families. If you want to reach out for any reason, including grief, stress, anxiety, academics, college applications, or simply to have a friendly voice to listen – much like you would have in our physical school building, please do so. I am including a link to our school website (thscoltspace.com) where you can find the contact information for our counselors, administration, and other support staff members at our school. It is under the “Contact Us” tab.
Thurston High School