Palmer High School

May Principal's Post

Entering Our Final Stretch

I often refer to the school year as a marathon from start to finish. The 2021-22 school year has been a marathon with many challenges along the way. The conclusion of this school year will be my twenty-fifth year in education. I can say without a doubt this year has brought on more challenges for educators than we experienced in past years.

Absentee rates have been two and half times what we consider normal. Many students consider school as an option to attend in person. Many students are experiencing apathy in an epidemic proportion. Students are experiencing unprecedented anxiety levels. I think it's fair to point out that this is not just a Palmer High concern. These are accounts from across the district, the state, and the county. These challenges span from first and second grade through our high school-aged students.

In October, I described to the Palmer High staff that we were experiencing a backlash from the pandemic. If you enjoy going fishing, you understand the term backlash. I used it as a metaphor to describe what we were experiencing with the high failure rates and absenteeism. It takes patience and perseverance for a fisherman (or fisherwoman) to get out a backlash. You have to back the spool of the line up, and dig into the bird's nest mess to find the kinks. Then, you have to work that kink to the surface, clear the mess up around the kink, and work it out.

The backlash is a result of two years of disruptions. Two years of uncertainty. Two years of many people living day to day life in fear. I am happy to report that we are working out the kinks at Palmer High. We are slowly making strides in the right direction through an incredible staff that strives to teach, nurture, and care for their students. This is the time of year when educators are dotting i's and crossing t's in the form of helping kids to get to the finish line of the long marathon.

When people ask me how the school year has gone, my most common response is, "It's been good. Kids are happy to be in school, but some students have forgotten what it means to be a student." This sentiment is really about the minority, not the majority. The majority of the students have continued to thrive through all the challenges and changes we've endured.

Last week we celebrated academic excellence with our students. It was a quant approach where we recognized our seniors in their classes with their peers. We gathered the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen in the theater to receive their awards. When we had these students' attention, we discussed the keys to their success. The responses were simplistic. Examples include, "I just show up, do the work, and turn it in." "I pay attention and focus on what the teacher wants us to do." "I just try my best." "I do my best." Simple approaches that lead to outstanding achievement.

It was refreshing to hear their feedback. It certainly wasn't the only thoughts they had to share. There were concerns about their future, about the mental health of their generation. The students expressed concerns about their hope for the future. That's a heavy load for our kids to carry alone. I think it's important to acknowledge and validate these concerns. I encourage parents/guardians to talk to their kiddo about these topics. This is particularly true if your student has struggled academically over the last two years.

When I reflect on this marathon year, even with our struggles, I find more reason to be optimistic about the future of this generation. This goes against the common narrative that we hear about today's youth. Unfortunately, our kids hear these narratives too. The end of the school year is full of amazing displays of talent and achievement. Awards ceremonies, student achievement recognition, music concerts, and graduation provide good reasons to celebrate our student's accomplishments. It also serves as an important reminder that students are doing great things every day.

Principal Reid

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Palmer High School - Graduation 2022

Palmer High School will host the commencement ceremony for the class of 2022 on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00 pm. The ceremony will be at the beautiful Machentanz Field behind Palmer High School.

This outdoor stadium venue is beautiful, but it also eliminates concerns about using the gym with limited capacity, which can be downright uncomfortable. Invite your family and friends to celebrate your Palmer High Class of 2022 Graduates. Like all good Alaskans, come dress for the weather.

Join us on our free Livestream for friends and family who can't attend the ceremony.