BETHEL — A discussion was held at the SAD 44 Board of Directors meeting Monday, Nov. 29, regarding the wearing of masks, and several key projects Principal Kenney has in effect at Telstar Middle and High School. Superintendent David Murphy opened the dialogue by saying that currently, there is in excess of 25 cases of COVID in the districts.

“The outstanding news is that we’ve been able to maintain in-school learning and we have not been forced to go remote at all,” explained Murphy. “I’m not sure how many people understand just how much work the administrators and the nurses spend on close contact identification, but it’s a very important aspect of everything related to COVID.

“I think that the time, effort and energy that goes into it is appreciated by people in the community, and I want to thank them too, because I know it’s a very, very difficult situation sometimes, especially if it’s a Saturday or a Sunday or you know, later in the evening … we have a great team. You need to know that people work very well to always [be] on the lookout for [everyone’s] best interests.”

Murphy explained that the SAD44 had a vaccine clinic at Crescent Park Elementary School before Thanksgiving. Around 50 people signed up, between the staff, who received boosters, and the students, who received the vaccine.

“You know, everything you’re hearing right now is, especially with this new variant coming in, they don’t know really what the implications of that are going to be. The good news is you know we have not been in a situation, unlike many other school systems in the area, where we’ve had to go right to close [the] school. So we’ve been able to keep all of our schools open, be able to keep our kids in school, which was the goal in the beginning of the year.”

John Elliott, dean of students at Telstar High School said, regarding masks, that there was a system put in place where violations could be reported. However, it has not been a problem. The students are not complaining.

In other news, Kenney shared three exciting initiatives Telstar Middle and High School has been working on.

There is the Seven Peaks Project, which is something the school is working on with grades sixth through twelfth. Each year, the student does a major capstone project for the seven peaks project, and when seniors reach their their final year, they reflect over their seven years at Telstar and their journey and what they’re going to do after high school.

The second project is called Portrait of a Grad.

“You have the graphic symbol that came back from the portrait grad work we’ve been working on that for the last year and a half. And that came about [with] a lot of help from the community. From the board, from staff, students, parents – serve trying to figure out what we want every student graduate at our high school to have,  six core competencies, and on our list, you can see there are six key terms and themes that were the collective that everybody kind of put down together,” explained Kenney.

“We had … between staff, students, parents, and community members, over 400 surveys return to pull this data from collectively to come up with what we want for all of our kids to have. And they are terms and themes and we’re going to work and build on programming for the Middle School and in High School.”

Lastly, Kenney is pushing to obtain the Rethinking Responsive Education Venture grant. It is a $250,000 grant the school is applying to receive. The deadline is in January. The grant builds on outdoor learning and recreation education.

“It will expand new courses in the high school that [could] be the same pathway for kids who really like this hands-on science approach. Part of that is an art earmark for our program … but also the building [of an] outdoor classroom pavilion and building a sugar shack for the kids and [the] ecology class.”

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