New Horizon School

“Not everything that is faced can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

James Baldwin

June 7, 2020

Dear NHS Families and Friends,

Following the terrible murder of George Floyd, we have seen ongoing protests and other calls to action demanding change.  We need change.  Doing nothing condones the unjust actions of others.

New Horizon School does not accept racism, and as a school we will stand up against racism.  We have begun the process of examining ourselves as educators, our individual actions, and how we teach about social injustice, systematic oppression, and racism.  We will continue to teach about the past, so that our students have more tools to navigate the present.  We will teach anti-racism, so that we can be a part of the solution.

During this past week, the faculty and I have been present for NHS students:  listening to them, reassuring them that they are safe at home and at school, answering their questions honestly and factually, and modeling for them how to stop racism.  It is a work in progress, but as a faculty and staff, we will stand together with our students, families, and board members, to stop racism.

Speaking for myself, I support the need to address the issue of police misconduct and brutality.  I support peaceful protests against injustice and inequity.  I support the requirement for members of law enforcement to turn on their body cameras and fully display their name badges.  I support the need to establish violence de-escalation training and teams within law enforcement.  I support the need to require law enforcement to provide first aid to save Black lives.  The killing of Black men, women, and children must stop.  I believe that we need social justice, and to accomplish that, we need to take apart our country’s racist system.  For my part, as an individual, I will speak up and say stop when I witness racism, I will talk to children about our country’s racist history, and I will guide children in recognizing the worth and dignity of every Black American.

As a school, the NHS faculty and I will continue to discuss ways that we can be a part of the solution, so that our NHS students can be the change needed to build an equitable society.  Our curriculum and program has always focused on equity, diversity, inclusion, and compassion.  We have always taught history.  We now know that we need to do more:  we need to teach about the racism upon which our country was founded, and we need to teach anti-racism.

We have NHS students and families of color who are hurting right now.  I assure you, we will continue to uphold our Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Policies which prohibit racism and discrimination.  As the teachers and I continue our conversations, we will determine what is needed to strengthen our programs and practices as well as to increase racial equity awareness, close the gaps in education experienced in our nation by Black students, and absolutely make sure that our Black students and other students of color know that they are safe, loved, and celebrated.

It is heartbreaking that tragic events such as the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, George Floyd, and others have taken place:  these events are connected to a long, long history of inequity and injustice in our country.

I highly recommend the resources below.  Now would be an excellent time to share a book, read a significant article, and watch an important video interview with your son or daughter, and be a part of the solution.

Books:
· Coretta Scott King Book Award winners

· “Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice”, (Adapted for Young Adults), by Bryan Stevenson

Videos:
·“Ta-Nehisi Coates on Police Brutality:  The Violence is Not New, It’s the Cameras That Are New”, author of “Between the World and Me” 

· “A Guide to white Privilege” by Courtney Ahn

Article:
·“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, by Peggy McIntosh 

Last week the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) shared some information from models for re-opening schools that have been developed in other states.  Ideas included innovative approaches with differentiated instruction, increased integration of technology, teaching deeply, using a whole child approach (social/emotional learning), equity considerations, team teaching, using staff creatively, and a focus on student mental health and well-being.  These are all concepts that the NHS faculty and I have been talking about as well.  Some states have described this process as “instructional reconstruction”, “school reform”, and “reimagining education”.  Whatever Washington State decides to call it; school will certainly look different next year in our state.  We expect OSPI to announce new guidelines tomorrow, and we expect those guidelines to discuss all of the above, as well as various options (or combinations of options):  on-site face to face school, split/rotating schedules without distance learning, split/rotating schedules with distance learning, phased in opening without distance learning, phased in opening with distance learning, and/or continuous learning in the remote environment.

The Board of Directors, faculty, staff, and I are pleased to announce that NHS will waive the balance of volunteer hours for families.

We are still accepting enrollment for Summer School 2020.  Be sure to mark if your student wishes to receive .5 credit.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Have a good week.

Sincerely,

Marla

Marla Veliz

June 11th, 2020

Posted In: School News