Return to Headlines

A letter to the community

Dear Parents or Guardians,

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 and an early welcome to the Class of 2033. This year has brought about the same feelings that many parents/guardians experience when their children enter school, transition to a new building, or graduate high school.  As our children embark on a new adventure, we are faced with the fear of the unknown and the constant threat of daily change. However, the loss of the familiar opens up possibilities and paves the way for hope.  COVID has tested us in the past few months. As I tell all the students, my own children, and myself, we learn from adversity- step by step.  We, as an educational community, are partners. As we say goodbye to our students or the structures that we have known, we will create new ones, new memories, new frameworks, and we will continue to learn.

As we transition into the 2020-21 school year, there are many uncertainties.  The district is in constant discussion and evaluation on how to best serve our community and adhere to the health expectations. There are many rumors and predictions of what education will look like in the future, but without clear guidelines, we would do a disservice creating a program that would likely have to change. When the state and education departments release their guidance, the district will then have a framework from which to build.

While as a district we will have to follow all guidance, we are strongly advocating that schools reopen in the fall. It is understood that there will be limitations with staff and facilities both on-site and off-site, but our goal is to maximize all learning opportunities for students. We have to build a high quality educational experience, while accounting for health/safety precautions, individual needs, and the importance of social interactions between students.

We are creating an ad hoc committee that is beginning with a facilities and staffing analysis. This includes classroom spacing for social distancing, cleaning/ disinfecting, health/safety, transportation, etc. In the upcoming weeks, we will be sending out surveys to gather data from our community. Moving forward, we will seek feedback from key stakeholders as we fine-tune plans based on guidance received from the Governor and NYSED.  Students will continue to be our first priority.

These times are not easy. The following excerpt from an essay, “Poppa and the Spruce Tree” written by Mario M. Coumo, former governor of New York, was first published in the Diaries of Mario M. Cuomo. Although it is written by a politician, it is not political in nature; I am asking you to look at the meaning behind it and how the symbolism can relate to education or society in general.  You will find that through perseverance and seemingly impossible odds, that with determination and belief, a symbol of strength can be built.

Best Wishes,

 

Frank Macri

 

Poppa and the Spruce Tree

by Mario M. Cuomo

Poppa taught me a lot about life, especially its hard times. I remembered one of his lessons one night when I was ready to quit a political campaign I was losing and wrote about it in my diary:

Tired, feeling the many months of struggle, I went up to the den to make some notes. I was looking for a pencil, rummaging through papers in the back of my desk drawer, where things accumulate for years, when I turned up one of Poppa’s old business cards, the ones we made up for him, that he was so proud of: Andrea Cuomo, Italian-American Groceries— Fine Imported Products. Poppa never had occasion to give anyone a calling card, but he loved having them.

I couldn’t help wondering what Poppa would have said if I told him I was tired or discouraged. Then I thought about how he dealt with hard circumstances. A thousand pictures flashed through my mind, but one scene came sharply into view.

We had just moved to Holliswood, New York, from our apartment behind the store. We had our own house for the first time; it had some land around it, even trees. One, in particular, was a great blue spruce that must have been 40 feet tall.

Less than a week after we moved in, there was a terrible storm. We came home from the store that night to find the spruce pulled almost totally from the ground and flung forward, its mighty nose bent in the asphalt of the street. My brother Frankie and I could climb poles all day; we were great at fire escapes; we could scale fences with barbed wire—but we knew nothing about trees. When we saw our spruce, defeated, its cheek on the canvas, our hearts sank. But not Poppa’s.

Maybe he was five feet six if his heels were not worn. Maybe he weighed 155 pounds if he had a good meal. Maybe he could see a block away if his glasses were clean. But he was stronger than Frankie and me and Marie and Mamma all together.

We stood in the street looking down at the tree. The rain was falling. Then he Prepared “O.K., we gonna push ’im up!” “What are you talking about, Poppa? The roots are out of the ground!” “Shut up, we're gonna push ’im up, he’s gonna grow again.” We didn’t know what to say to him. You couldn’t say no to him. So we followed him into the house and we got what rope there was and we tied the rope around the tip of the tree that lay in the asphalt, and he stood up by the house, with me pulling on the rope and Frankie in the street in the rain, helping to push up the great blue spruce. In no time at all, we had it standing up straight again!

With the rain still falling, Poppa dug away at the place where the roots were, making a muddy hole wider and wider as the tree sank lower and lower toward security. Then we shoveled mud over the roots and moved boulders to the base to keep the tree in place. Poppa drove stakes in the ground, tied rope from the trunk to the stakes, and maybe two hours later looked at the spruce, the crippled spruce made straight by ropes, and said, “Don’t worry, he’s gonna grow again . . . .”

I looked at the card and wanted to cry. If you were to drive past that house today, you would see the great, straight blue spruce, maybe 65 feet tall, pointing straight up to the heavens, pretending it never had its nose in the asphalt.

 

 

Maha Ghanem (maha.ghanem@readingandwritingproject.com) Copyright 2015 Reading and Writing Project. Page 1 of 3 c announced,