“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Nelson Mandela

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, a day that is grounded in respect for each other, camaraderie, and appreciation, I want to offer insight into our collective journey through this pandemic.

The climate and circumstances we find ourselves in today is more complex than ever. These last 9 months have challenged our fortitude and resolve. At times, it may feel as if there will be no end to this pandemic. But, we should remind ourselves that we will get through these difficult times. When we ultimately come out on the other side, what will remain and be remembered is how we treated each other. Our present circumstances require focus and situational awareness. These are not times for distractions or divisiveness. In the best interests of safety and well-being of our students, staff, and the goals of our community, we must remain positive and focused.

Many of you are hurting. We have children sitting at home, filled with uncertainty because something they don’t understand is keeping them from playing with friends, filling our halls with laughter, and just being carefree kids. We have parents who want their children in the school more often and others who want the school buildings closed so we can keep people safe. We have teachers who are concerned about getting themselves and their families sick and wondering how they can help their own children who are learning remotely in their home school districts. We have students who simply want to shoot a basketball, compete in a wrestling match, or perform on a stage. Let me be clear: We understand and truly care about our students, families, and staff. We recognize that words alone do not offer immediate solutions, but our school district will continuously analyze the data, consider the impact of our decisions, fight through obstacles, and use our combined strength to pull every single child through these challenging times.

If you flip open any of our history books, you will quickly find events that threatened earlier generations and posed major detours for the dreams of countless people. Our detour has altered some of our dreams and expectations, and we are all struggling to bear the weight of the massive challenges we are forced to confront. Let us not allow ourselves to be distracted or divided. Like our predecessors, although we are all not fully in agreement with the path we are taking, let’s extend our arms, grab hold of everyone, and together get through to better times. Because, no matter how complicated life may get, our students are watching how we respond to adversity, and will use it as a blueprint for how they will respond to the challenges faced by their generation. What we want our students to learn from us during these times is how to respond to challenges using integrity, humility, and kindness. So, let’s stay positive and productive. 

We need everyone to get through this. We know there will be questions, disagreements, and doubt, but, if we work together and treat each other with respect, the Verona of tomorrow will emerge stronger than ever. There remains much to be thankful for this holiday season. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.

All my best,

Dr. Rui Dionisio
Superintendent of Schools