Andrew Pride

SEPTEMBER 7, 2021

PRINCIPAL'S MESSAGE

We continue to acclimate with lots of energy and excitement for what’s to come this year! The Class of 2022 is beginning to show visibility with establishing synergy and unification for all this year. It is easy to recognize our Senior Leaders, as they have embraced this role throughout VJA in the classroom, in athletics, and in our fine arts programs. They developed this year’s theme Bring Back the Thunder to inspire our T-Bolts to be comfortable as individuals, and with their own uniqueness, as we all belong at VJA. They acknowledge that each T-Bolt will have a different story and experience and know that in order to achieve the goals of a community, individuals need to come together for success. They led our successful “Sunrise” pancake breakfast, as over 200 of our seniors came together at dawn to open an epic final year at VJA. You cannot miss their visibility at our events, cheering for their T-Bolt peers. I am very impressed thus far, and look forward to great things as the year unfolds.


September is always a busy month highlighted by Homecoming. The week of September 26th-October 2nd will be full of energy and excitement as our Student Council, VALT Group, T-Bolt Storm, Class Council, and other groups under the leadership of Mr. Tim Dalton-AP, will work hard to create opportunities, recognition, and celebration for current students and alumni. This year’s group is dedicated to Bringing Back the Thunder as they embark on launching new and familiar plans. While following CCDPH guidelines, we are working diligently to bring back events like Powderpuff, Movie Night, Homecoming Assembly, Homecoming Dance, as well as our school decorating as much as possible (and as weather allows). This year’s theme of Hollywood Red Carpet is sure to be a showstopper with more info forthcoming! Also in September, we brought back Friday Night Lights with the return of a full stadium for Friday football games. Another exciting return to our stadium is our Marching Band. We are hosting our annual VJA Band Invitational on September 18th with our T-Bolts performing at 8 p.m. You definitely do not want to miss this event! In fact, we look forward to your presence at all our community events. If you are as eager as we are to see our return to the stage, please save the date for our Freshmen Show! Our students will be performing September 23rd and 24th.


Other happenings at VJA included the Senior Parent Night hosted by our Guidance Office. The evening was both live and virtual to assist the Class of 2022. We had a tremendous turnout for our Back to School Night and look forward to further partnerships with our T-Bolt parents. Our teachers and staff have been creatively engaging students in and out of the classroom, and we hoped you were able to see it firsthand. I had the privilege of visiting classrooms every week so far, and have been impressed with the engagement activities our teachers are providing students. They are working diligently to make sure students feel connected and cared for at VJA. We are thrilled that our T-Bolts are here and will continue to provide meaningful learning opportunities throughout the year.


I thank you for your trust and support for us at VJA. Please know that I never take that trust for granted and work diligently to provide the best high school experience for your student. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out @aothman@d230.org


Sincerely,

Ms. Abir Othman

Principal

Victor J. Andrew High School

(708) 342-5810

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sept. 8: Athletic Boosters Meeting @ 7 pm

Sept. 18: VJA Band Invitational

Sept. 21: Music Parents Meeting @ 7:30 pm

Sept. 27: Movie Night @ 7 pm

Sept. 29: Powder Puff Game @ 7 pm

Sept. 30: School Board Meeting @ Stagg High School, 7 pm

Oct. 1: Homecoming Assembly

Oct. 1: Homecoming Game

Oct. 2: Homecoming Dance (VJA students only)

SPECIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT

Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and trauma-informed practices is crucial in meeting the needs of our learners, especially during this time of social distancing and, for some students, a return from isolation. Many of our staff have participated in training to build our knowledge and skills regarding Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and trauma-informed practices in order to provide students with a safe and responsive learning environment.


What is trauma and how does it relate to student learning? A traumatic experience can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. Traumatic experiences can initiate strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. “By the time they turn 16, roughly two-thirds of children in the United States will experience some form of trauma” (Copeland, 2007). Studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school. Many students have experienced trauma related to Covid-19 such as personal illness, illness or death of a loved one, friend, or community member.


What is our staff doing to help our students? First, we are keenly aware of the realities that some of our students are facing, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, we are implementing trauma-informed practices in our classrooms to support our students’ social and emotional needs. We are teaching skills to encourage self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. We are encouraging students to name their emotions and ask for help when needed. We are helping students develop positive outlooks and growth-mindsets. We are teaching students to have empathy and respect for others. We are providing a safe, consistent environment and routine by having all students back in the building. We are encouraging student choice, voice, and empowerment to make good decisions. Above all, we are trying to get our students back to the “normal” they once knew.


If your child is struggling and needs more support, please feel free to reach out to your student’s case manager or counselor so we can assist.


BRAIN SCIENCE

I presented to our staff right before school started on some very basic, but critical, brain science that I thought would be worth mentioning to parents, particularly in these stressful times. In overly simplistic terms, the brain is separated into two regions - the pre-frontal cortex and the limbic system. The pre-frontal cortex is our “thinking brain” and it allows us to reason, problem solve, plan, and learn. The limbic brain is our “emotional brain” and it handles emotions. When the emotional brain is feeling stress or fear, our emotional brain takes over and our ability to learn and rationalize decreases. As you can imagine, many students struggle with an ongoing battle between their emotional brain and their learning brain. When stress is high and worries of the unknown are ever-present, our limbic system gets stuck in the “on” position, making it almost impossible to learn. This phenomenon is only exacerbated during a pandemic.


As parents and educators, we want to help students to settle their emotional brain so that their learning brains can take over and allow them to get the most out of their education. Giving students down-time to play, relax, socialize, and quiet their minds is critical in accomplishing this. Reducing screen time, eating healthy, and getting plenty of sleep should not be overlooked. Some students need to talk through their emotions and some find mindfulness techniques to be helpful. Regardless of the strategy/ies, we must remember that if we want our students to come to school feeling calm and ready to learn, we must continue to help them to find solutions to lower their stress and quiet their emotional brains.

ATHLETICS

Greetings T-Bolt Nation,


On behalf of our athletic staff, we hope all families enjoyed the Labor Day weekend. Our fall athletic season has had a great start. Our participation numbers remain high, our student superfan support remains strong, and our programs are having some strong performances as well. We'll soon be entering into the conference and IHSA post-season later this month with boys' and girls' golf, and will continue with the rest of our fall programs through the month of October. As we head into our post-season, we want to remind families to please continually check your emails used to register through 8to18. Our system emails families as their sports physical is due to expire (4 emails in the last 60 days), as well as athletic office and head coach informational messages. If an athlete's physical expires at any point during the season, they will be prohibited from practicing or competing until a new physical is confirmed with the athletic office. We also want to remind winter athletic families to please register for the winter season due to start on or after Oct. 18th. Please note that our mask requirement remains in effect for all in-door events. Please also review our athletic website for more details on tryout information, head coach contact information, and many more useful resources. In closing, we greatly appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you at any of our upcoming home athletic events. Go T-Bolts!!

THE COLLEGE/CAREER CONNECTION

The College/Career Connection newsletter provides updates from the VJA College & Career Center for students and families. Please click here to access September’s College/Career Connection newsletter. You may also access it via our website.

This month’s edition features:
  • Fall College Visit Information
  • D230 Works Information
  • College Entrance Exam Fall Details
  • Facts for First Gen: Info for those will be the first in their family to attend college
  • and more!

Questions? Contact Cody Dailey, Student Success Specialist - cdailey@d230.org - 708-342-5869

ATHLETIC BOOSTERS

Our next Booster Club Meeting will be September 8 at 7 p.m. in Room 220. If you are interested in becoming a part of this great club, come to the meeting. We look forward to meeting all the fall team representatives!

Queen of Hearts fundraiser is here! We are still searching for the Queen of Hearts. We are on Week 30 and we are over $4,800 in our progressive 50/50 split. The more everyone buys and the longer until we find the Queen the more money there is to win! Our virtual drawing is every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. until the Queen of Hearts is picked. This is open to any resident in Illinois 18 and over. Tell all your friends and family! We will have a weekly winner that will receive a $25 gift card to a local business. Please check out our website https://andrewathleticboostersqoh.org. This drawing will continue throughout the year. Please support the Booster Club!

The Booster Club is so excited that Fall Football is back! We are open for concessions and spiritwear for all the home football games! We are ready for Sandburg on September 10! Come support the Booster Club!

MUSIC BOOSTERS

The VJA Marching Thunderbolts have been working tirelessly on this year’s show titled “Aqua Chroma”. The students had multiple practices each week throughout the summer, culminating in a week-long band camp followed by a preview show for their family and friends.


The Marching Thunderbolts kicked off the season with the Community Show on September 4th. Their first competition will be at the AA Stagg High School Jamboree on September 11th followed by their performance in exhibition at our 6th annual Marching Band Invitational on September 18th. We will have a total of 14 local high school marching bands. With food trucks, concessions and plenty of great music performances, the Invitational is something you don’t want to miss. Come out, enjoy the bands, and cheer on your very own VJA Marching Thunderbolts as they perform in exhibition. And as always, you will be able to watch the marching band perform their show at all home football games this fall.


Later in the fall, the VJA Music Program has numerous musical events on the calendar including the Fall Concert on November 4th, and the Holiday Prism Concert on December 8th and 9th. The VJA Music Parent Association will also be hosting their annual Fall Music Parent Craft Show on Saturday, November 6th and Sunday, November 7th. This event features a large selection of unique crafters and is the perfect place to pick up some wonderful gifts for the upcoming holiday. Your attendance helps support all the music programs at VJA.


Please consider attending the Andrew Music Parent meetings to keep up to date about all the news from the music department. Future meetings include September 21st, October 19th and November 16th. Meetings are held at 7:30pm in the choir room.


Thank you and Eyes with Pride!!