BHS Parent Bulletin, October 2020
Volume 4, Issue 2
We ARE Belton!
Message from the Principal...
So, just what is “liminal” space? “Liminal” comes from the Latin root, limen, which means “threshold.” More in a moment.
We wish to begin with a “Thank you!”
Thank you to our Belton High School… school community. Specifically, we want to thank our students, staff, parent community and those in the community who remain linked through our partnership to support the Academies of Belton. Our first day of school for the school year was August 24, 2020. Few, and we do mean few, in the region commenced their school year prior to September 8.
Our August 24 opening was made possible because of an “over the top” effort by a good number of people. When one looks back and considers the registration deadline for “in person” or “virtual” to have been July 30 and the steps required to tie the pieces together, it seems just shy of a miracle that student schedules were finalized late Wednesday, August 19th. From this point, our teaching staff had a mere 5 days before their students were to arrive either “in person” or “virtually.” Today, we now stake claim to our having experienced this version of school for the past six weeks.
We’d be remiss if we failed to acknowledge… this is not easy. Across the globe, one reads, hears and witnesses evidence of people doing their very best to make the best of the situation. Across the country, McDonalds’ parking lots are sprinkled with high school students accessing wifi, families are rearranging sleep schedules in order to share connectivity within the home and inboxes are filled with correspondence in an attempt to keep everyone on the same page. Some do thrive while others struggle to survive. Again, the challenges are real and this is not easy. The cooperation, flexibility and attempts to truly understand are beyond moving. To those students, parents and teachers who have been stretched to the limit to ensure a meaningful experience, you are admired and worthy of this admiration. Certainly, we will continue to review and consider how this can be made sustainable and improved as we proceed.
We believe it safe to make the argument that most of us find ourselves in a space where it feels like something has been left behind, but we’re equally uncertain as to what lies ahead. We’ve reached a “threshold” of sorts. We hear one another saying things like… “I wish we could go back to the way it was.” Or, “I can’t wait until things return to normal.” But, given the current realities… we’re left to wonder… will it ever be the same?
If we can accept this “liminal space” as our current “given,” then we have some choices to make. Do we allow ourselves to be stuck, paralyzed, befuddled, dismayed, or any number of adjectives which one could identify? Or, do we elect to acknowledge “present realities” and then, seek to capitalize on the opportunities to adapt and morph into a “new normal” until such time as we return to a more familiar place or discover we will simply exist in this “new space” moving forward? Certainly, no one should cast judgment nor blame nor fail to recognize it is natural for people to find themselves “stuck.” But, together, and with some creativity, we are discovering new ways to enhance the experiences we share. Is it possible that we are developing the shape of a new normal?
In an August, 1977 issue of Newsweek magazine, American journalist, Sharon Begley ended her piece about whether or not extraterrestrial life forms would be found somewhere other than Earth with the following phrase, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” We find ourselves thinking the same about our place in this “liminal space”… “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” We are convinced we, the Belton High School... school community, will discover this place together.
Life is Good! We ARE Belton!
BSD honors our 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient.
Congratulations! Mr. Tyler Epstein
Mr. Epstein is the recipient of the “Jon S. Ferguson Excellence in Teaching Award.”
Tyler has been recognized for his exemplary efforts with those who participate in the alternative education program made available to Belton High School students. Since his having moved into this role, approximately 25 students per year have earned their high school diploma. Mr. Epstein knows each student as an individual, the specific challenges they must overcome and cares deeply for each of them. This is obvious to the students themselves and to anyone who has the good fortune to interact with Tyler about the progress each one of his students is making.
The initial presentation occurred on the football field during the first minutes of a Belton High School football practice. As a result, the student-athletes he also supports would learn a bit more about the work he does with those who’ve found the traditional school format to be quite a challenge as well as participate in his special recognition. This was followed by a trip to the Performing Arts Center where the BHS staff were involved in a staff meeting. Finally, he was recognized the following morning in the presence of those who participate in the alternative programming at the Scott Educational Center.
Tyler was quick to reference the “team effort” which is essential for the success of the program. His partners this year are Ms. Rebecca Milner and Mr. John Harrington. A shout out to Mr. Pat Denney and Mrs. Kelly Vaughn for their respective roles as well.
Presenting the award, among others from the Belton Educational Foundation and the Belton School District Office staff, was Ms. Sonja Abdelgawad - Executive Director, Belton Educational Foundation.
Again, congratulations to a well-deserved... Mr. Tyler Epstein.
Virtual Parent Teacher Conferences October 28... an update in format
The feedback from those who participated in Parent Teacher Conferences Thursday, October 22nd has been extremely positive. We look forward to continued conversation during the second night scheduled for Wednesday, October 28th.
In an effort to increase the number of opportunities for our parent/student community to conduct individual conferences with their respective teachers, we’ve decided to modify our original design. We are replacing the blocks of teacher zoom presentations with additional opportunities to schedule individual conferences.
The new format is as follows…
Staff will be available for scheduled conferences from 3 to 8 pm on Wednesday, October 28th. Should you wish to schedule a conference with a particular member of the teaching staff, please reach out via phone, email or utilize the scheduling tool they have previously provided to make your request known. We hope this will provide additional flexibility in scheduling for both BHS parents and staff. Meet the Teaching Staff… 2020-2021
Link to course descriptions provided during our Virtual Back to School Night
Test Days… October 20 & November 3, 2020
In high schools across the country, time is set aside for students to participate in either a practice or an authentic “high stakes” test exercise. Typically, during their four years of high school, every Belton High School student has an opportunity to experience a Pre-ACT and a Practice ACT prior to taking the ACT or the ACT Workkeys on campus. Furthermore, each student participates without having to cover the cost. The costs associated with the Pre-ACT, ACT and ACT Workkeys are covered by district funds. In addition, BHS students also take the ASVAB during the spring semester of their sophomore year regardless of their level of interest in entering military service. More about the rationale for the ASVAB is provided below.
As a result of COVID 19 and our inability to provide these assessment opportunities last spring, we have determined it important to create “a makeup opportunity” for the Classes of 2021 and 2022. In order to address this concern as well as continue to preserve “social distance” here at BHS, we’ve identified two dates this fall and have made adjustments to our typical sequencing. On Monday, September 28, all seniors and juniors should have received a Google Form from BHS counseling staff designed to gather input from students and assist with scheduling these opportunities. See the chart below which outlines our plan...
As is displayed, freshmen, sophomores and “in person” juniors will participate in “Distance learning” and not report to Belton High School on Tuesday, October 20. This will allow us to provide an opportunity for our “virtual” juniors to participate in an ASVAB while the seniors (both “in person” and “virtual”) will have their opportunity to take either the ACT, ACT Workkeys or the ASVAB.
On Tuesday, November 3, we will have our second of two “Test” days. Freshmen and “virtual” juniors will participate in “Distance learning” and do not report to Belton High School. Seniors, aside from ‘select’ seniors who wish to take the ASVAB will participate in “Exploration Day” and do not report to Belton High School. “Exploration Day” is designed to give seniors a day to set aside to work on college applications, visit college campuses (virtually this year), and/or seriously investigate opportunities they wish to consider for their post-secondary experience.
For those scheduled to participate in “on campus” testing October 20 and/or November 3, the bus routes will continue to run as they normally do in the morning. We continue to work on the plans for the afternoon. We will provide an update and work directly with students once all has been determined.
Student-athletes & all who participate in activities following the school day who will be Distance Learning on these dates...
Unfortunately, no transportation is available. Students will need to make arrangements in order to report to their respective practices. All practices/rehearsals will be conducted at the regularly scheduled times.
Spring testing/exploration date(s)...
This will be addressed at a later time. We have developed two separate models which are designed with regard to where we find ourselves relative to COVID 19. We thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation.
Although there are a number of factors which influence a student’s likely success in college, the combination of one’s ACT score coupled with a GPA provides the best predictor of student success. Furthermore, the individual reports provide a breakdown of areas of strength as well as opportunities for improvement and are invaluable in determining course sequencing while one is in high school. Finally, the ACT score is also one factor which ultimately determines a student’s cum laude status. (Cum Laude… “to graduate with honors”... At BHS, cum laude requires a 22, magna cum laude requires a 26 and summa cum laude requires a 31.)
Why the ASVAB?...
So, why do students take the ASVAB during the spring semester of their sophomore year regardless of their level of interest in entering military service? Simply put, the data collected from the ASVAB provides students, as well as those in guidance, with some useful information about select skills sets and how an individual’s select skill sets could be applied to opportunities in the military as well as the parallel opportunities available to them in civilian life.
Semester Two... What will it look like?
Although time remains before the second semester is set to begin, we’re cognizant of just how quickly time flies and Semester two is scheduled to start on January 19. As with so many things, we’re developing some preliminary plans to address different scenarios related to COVID 19. One can expect, there will be a time frame wherein our students, along with their parents, will be given an opportunity to make their wishes known as to how they would wish/intend to “do school” for the second semester.
One might imagine, we’ll present some delivery options and then solicit feedback from every student which reads something like… If this were the scenario, I would do “x.” On the other hand, if this is the scenario, then I would do “y.” Much remains unknown. Based upon the feedback received, the current state of affairs during the time frame in question, and the anticipated state of affairs at the time of second semester, a decision as to how school will be delivered will be determined. The opportunity for review and making adaptations to any plan will be preserved.
Certainly, the optimist, present in most of us, looks forward to a return to greater normalcy. But, practically speaking, the combination of COVID 19, flu season and current projections would suggest there will be some “hybrid” version of doing school well into the second semester.
Academies of Belton
Class of 2024 "Commitment to My Future"
The emphasis placed upon social distancing and limiting the size of a group has provided an opportunity to create different ways to continue the implementation of the Academies of Belton. A special event which is held annually in the fall for the members of the freshman class is the "Commitment to My Future" ceremony. This year virtual components were central to the celebration.
In September, Ms. Kelly Crumley, Ms. Rachel Hagelin, Ms. Robyn Holmes and Ms. Lindsay Linck devised a plan. BHS Alumni were contacted and asked to provide a short video of themselves speaking about their time at BHS and then, sharing some advice for the students in the Class of 2024. Student Council President Annabelle MItchell, Freshman Class President Piper Keltner and BHS Principal, Mr. Phil Clark contributed to the program as well. These messages were all compiled into one video presentation.
October 1st and 2nd were days of significance for the Class of 2024. On those dates during Freshman Seminar classes, "in person" students viewed the video presentation in the Performing Arts Center. Following the viewing, each of these members of the Class of 2024 signed the banner as a symbol of their commitment to “do what it takes" to be prepared for their future. Members of the Class of 2024 who currently attend "virtually" were provided the video link and will have an opportunity to sign the banner upon their return to "in person" school.
This school year, the banner will be displayed in the freshman wing at BHS. It will then be moved to a more visible location in the building and will be a part of the high school graduation ceremony in May of 2024.
We’ve shared some of the photos from the signing with you here.
Career Exploration Fair... a virtual experience
As Freshmen explore their interests, their skills, Academies and career pathways, a valuable component is to interact with individuals working in those career pathways. Typically, a Career Fair would be hosted to provide opportunities for BHS freshmen to practice their “professional” interpersonal skills and to visit “in person” with those in the workforce. This fall, as with many events, the opportunity to interact with others about careers will be provided virtually.
Beginning the week of October 21st, students will explore career pathways within each of the Academies of Belton by viewing short videos created by individuals currently in those careers. A period of approximately three weeks will be designated for each of the Academies beginning with Science & Industry, then Business & Technology and finally, Human Services. During these blocks of time, students will also complete additional research on post-secondary education requirements, the variety of pathways available within careers and other components such as job availability and salaries. This experience and the information gained will assist students in selecting a preferred Academy and Career Pathway in January. The Academy selection will serve as a guide for course enrollment during their next three years at Belton High School.
What about those “professional” interpersonal skills? There will continue to be an emphasis on teaching, learning and practicing these skills. Students will demonstrate what they have learned through an activity with College & Career Academy teachers later in the semester.
Canvas information... how to...
The BSD Return to School Plan
Future Pirates' Scroll Publication Dates
The Pirates' Scroll represents our primary vehicle to share BHS information with our parent and partner community. We intend to publish quarterly and each issue is posted on the BHS webpage. As special circumstances surface, additional issues are produced. Parents will receive notification whenever a new issue is posted.
As a reminder, our "Why Papers" are also found on the BHS Website. BHS "Why Papers" are designed to address very specific topics and in such a fashion one can gain greater insight as to the reason(s) things are as they are. Topics include, but are not limited to: Assessments, A+ Program, Cum Laude and Safety. You'll find the BHS "Why" Paper link on the BHS website.
Additional "Why Papers" will be posted as they are deemed important/useful.