The Plato Periodiko

September 2021

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Chairman's Corner

Dear Plato Academy Families,


I am sincerely grateful to all of you who are working with us to make Plato Academy the best small, highly-effective, K-8 schools we can be during this unprecedented and confusing time. Please know that we are working to be as deliberate, clear, and consistent as possible with you: our parents, teachers, and community members.


Over the past few weeks, Plato Academy Schools have held our course and avoided confusion despite the all of the back and forth between the Governor and the courts. On July 30th, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 21-175, which mandated that parents have the right to choose whether or not their children wear masks to school. That executive order was appealed and eventually overturned by Judge Cooper, allowing school districts to mandate masks. Governor DeSantis immediately appealed that ruling, causing the ruling to be automatically stayed. The judge lifted that stay yesterday afternoon and, hours later, Governor DeSantis filed a new emergency motion requesting an appeals court to reinstate a stay, allowing parents to choose whether their children wear masks to school or not. We suspect this issue will eventually find itself before the Florida Supreme Court, whose ruling on the matter should be final.


As Florida public charter schools we are obligated to uphold Florida law. If we do not follow the law, our charters to operate could potentially be terminated immediately, forcing the schools to close. Accordingly, as Florida public schools of choice, we will continue to honor the state law that empowers parents to make the best choice for their children with regards to whether or not they wear masks. As school leaders, we do encourage parents to make the best choices for their children and all the children.


Please know that we have requested and are waiting for final word from the Florida Department of Education on how to proceed. Until we receive clear communication and guidance from the FL DOE stating we must mandate masks, we will continue with our consistent course and clear communications that masks remain optional.


That being said, we ask all parents to consider these facts. As of Friday, September 10th, the fifth week of school, there have been approximately 300 cases of Plato Academy students or staff testing positive for Covid. Last year, there were a total of 186 cases. While we are doing our best to practice all of the same social distancing and cleaning protocols that we did last year, the fact remains there are more students are back in the buildings and the delta variant is more contagious among children. I know for a fact that our principals and their teams as well as the the home office are all doing their best to communicate and follow effective Covid-mitigation strategies.


Additionally, according to our local health departments, masks, social distancing, contact tracing, quarantining, heightened cleaning protocols, and diligent hygiene procedures remain recommended tools to prevent the spread of Covid. Plato Academy continues to work diligently alongside each of the departments of health with whom we work.


The principals are actively working with teachers on a case-by-case basis taking into account the age of the students and the instructional style of the teacher to identify more effective learning opportunities for students who are at home under quarantine and will communicate with you about those plans within a week. The pandemic is having a bigger impact this year than last. It is important that we continue to work together despite any differences we may have to mitigate the impact of Covid and remain in legal compliance.


Today, we begin providing weekly Covid updates every Friday that will be accessible at https://platoacademy.net/covid-19.


Please continue to share any questions, ideas, or concerns with your school’s principal. Most importantly, I want to ask each and every one of you to treat each other with respect, patience, and kindness as we all do our best to work through the many challenges this pandemic has caused. Thank you for helping to put student and staff safety first and for helping our schools provide our students with a world-class education.



Thank you,


Louis Kokkinakos

Chairman of the Board

Plato Academy Schools Corporation

CEO's Corner

Synergy

Dear Plato Academy Family,


One of my goals as CEO is to promote synergy. When people work harmoniously together, playing to their strengths, the sum result is greater than the individual output of each person. Synergy begins with differences. It embraces them, unites them, and builds upon them. Think of an orchestra. The woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings, and keyboards can each make beautiful music on their own, but together, they create a symphony.


With nearly 4,000 students, over 400 employees, and over 1,600 families our Plato Family is sizable and incredibly strong. There is also incredible diversity. Our students come to school every day with unique points of view. They come from homes that have different ethnicities, nationalities, religious beliefs, political views, income levels, and passions for different recreations. (I only ask that we all cheer in unison for the Bucs, the Rays, the Rowdies, the Gators, and the Lightning.) Every one of our students has unique interests, abilities, experience, and life goals that deserve 100% of our attention and care. We want to nurture what makes each of our students different and develop within them and appreciation for the idea of synergy, working together to achieve greater things. Our students are the most important people in our schools--every day, all day. But, today, I ask you to take into consideration the giving and caring people who work for and with our students.


This week I've had the opportunity to recognize our employees for their years of dedicated service. It is a new tradition for our schools, but one whose time has come because we have people who have dedicated their careers to serving our students and our schools. In other words, we have people who have brought their "A" game every day for as many as 14 years to help achieve the high academic and behavioral standards-driven mission of our schools, serving our students, your children. Whether they work at the front desk, in a classroom, in an office, or cleaning our buildings-- all work well done is noble-- I am honored to serve with these men and women who genuinely believe in doing their best, never giving up, putting students first, making Plato Academy Schools a place where students feel safe to be themselves and positive, lifelong memories are made. Their legacy, their time of service at Plato Academy, will live on through the lives they positively impact: your children. Please join me in doing something to go out of our way to show our appreciation for Plato Academy's exemplary employees.


There is no doubt: Covid has made the work we do much more challenging. Given the current political environment, I think we can all agree that no matter what we do, we will not make everybody happy. Please know we are sensitive and listening to everybody's points of view and are striving to continue upholding the law while making the experience of learning and working at Plato Academy as safe as possible. Utilizing your feedback over the recent days, the principals, Chief Academic Officer Cicetti, and I are actively working on improving safety protocols while students are in our buildings and learning plans for when students are home sick or under quarantine. In the meantime, please continue providing us with your ideas, questions, and concerns. Please be patient and allow us your grace and compassion as we continue striving to make student safety our number one priority.


In spite of all the challenges, we have the amazing opportunity to keep making going to Plato Academy a beautiful and life-transforming experience. Let us keep working together, utilizing our unique strengths and abilities, and working as synergistically as possible.


Thank you,


Matt Gunderson

gundersonm@platoacademy.net

#platostrong

#forwardtogether

A Message on Parental Support From Chief Academic Officer - Ms. Cicetti

Maintaining Learning During School Absences


Student absences that are uncontrollable and unexpected can interrupt the flow of student learning and be frustrating for students, families, and teachers alike. Plato Academy educators are aware of the additional challenges COVID is presenting for student attendance and we will be available to support your student through unexpected absences from school.


Classroom teachers will provide access to lessons and daily work to students who miss school. This may come in the form of paper work packets, scanned work, or access to lessons through google classroom. If students struggle with a concept, while working from home, your child’s teacher will make time during small groups or after school to directly instruct your child when they return. It is very important that you stay in open communication with your child’s teacher about what your child needs, and together, you and your child’s teacher can make decisions based on what is best for your child’s academic progress.


Here is a list of best practices you can follow as a family.


  • Read daily!

  • Access resources and lessons on the teacher’s google classroom.

  • Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher.

  • Use the online programs that allow your students to practice a variety of subjects and skills, for example:

    • Moby Max

    • Starfall

    • Discovery Ed

    • Brain Pop

    • Learning A-Z

Happy New School Year!


Danielle Cicetti

Chief Academic Officer

COVID-19 Symptomatic Decision Tree

Please find our updated decision tree regarding Covid-19. This includes information on what happens when your student is positive, symptomatic, exposed, and shows how returning from quarantine is decided. It has been developed by the Florida Department of Education. Please note that Plato Academy works directly with each district’s Department of Health, therefore, decisions are influenced by their guidelines.

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Health and Wellness Protocols:

  • Face coverings will continue to be highly recommended (not mandatory) when indoors for both staff and students. It will not be monitored by staff and face coverings will continue to be made available for students and staff.
  • All buildings will continue enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols.
  • Social distancing practices, to the extent possible, will continue whenever possible for all school events.
  • Water fountains in all buildings will remain closed.
  • Seating charts for classrooms will be used.
  • Campuses will maintain a separate space for individuals exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Families are asked to inform the school immediately of any medical concerns and use best practices for sending students to school who show symptoms of any illnesses

Congratulations to Melissa Beck, Plato Academy Clearwater - Assistant Principal

We are excited to hear the wonderful news that Mellissa Beck, Plato Academy Clearwater Assistant Principal has welcomed her new baby, Eleanora Harper Beck! Eleanora was born at 5:07 am - 5 pounds, 4 ounces. Please join us in congratulating Mrs. Beck and her growing family!
Eleanora Harper Beck was born at 5:07 am - 5 pounds, 4 ounces

$1,000 School Survey Sweepstakes!

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Help us by reviewing your campus!

Help out your home campus AND have a chance to win $1,000! We need YOUR VOICE to share why you love Plato Academy, specifically your home campus. Our goal is to get 15-20 reviews for each campus this month which could bring up each site's rating by entire letter grade! We hope you will participate by taking a few minutes to share your thoughts while also having the chance to win $1,000!


Deadline

September 30, 2021 at 11:00 PM EST

The winner will be contacted directly.


Who Can Apply

Parents and students currently enrolled in a K-12 school or graduated within the last 4 years.


How It Works

Review your school by completing our $1,000 School Survey Sweepstakes and be entered for a chance to win $1,000. Your responses are anonymous and will be displayed on Niche to help others find a school that's right for them. The sweepstakes winner will be determined by random drawing and then contacted directly and announced on the Scholarship Winners page. One entry per person.

$1,000 School Survey Sweepstakes!

Click here to review your campus..

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Alumni Spotlight

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Tia Walker - Plato Academy Palm Harbor


I started at Plato Academy, Palm Harbor in second grade. It was the year this school just opened and I had an amazing teacher, Ms. Bowers. Everybody was really kind and caring in this cozy environment. There were of course growing issues with the lack of a gym or field but the staff was very creative in ensuring that we got our outdoor exercise with the mile club, etc. As I progressed through the grades until the end of middle school, valuing education was emphasized in an engaging manner and I developed as a person in this safe environment. I believe that I had some of the best instructors, especially in mathematics. The administration led by Principal Donnelly was outstanding as they provided us with every available opportunity. These positive experiences have no doubt set me up to be successful in High School (named Salutatorian at Countryside High School for the Class of 2021) and now hopefully I can continue this success at the University of Tampa where I will major in Actuarial Science and Finance.

Tia Walker

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Plato Academy All Pro Dads - Campus Leaders Needed

Plato Academy All Pro Dad is Back!!


We are so excited to be able to re-establish each of our campus chapters this school year. After a brief break due to COVID-19, we are ready to kick off the new year stronger than ever.

We are looking for 3-5 dads at each campus to be active participants in leading the campus chapter.


For a couple of hours each month, participants will have the opportunity to join other dads and children at school and in out-of-school fun, memory-making events. All Pro Dad Chapters provides an opportunity for dads to spend quality time with their children which will strengthen their relationship and develop a sense of community amongst our great network of schools.

Interested in learning more? Follow the link to our online interest form: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F4FAAAA28A0FAC43-plato

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NJHS - Calling all students with vision and ambition!

The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) can help you make your life’s dreams real. Strive to be a member to make an impact, not just for yourself, but for your community and for the world.



Honor Your Future Now:


NJHS membership is an outstanding opportunity to develop the habits and standards so important to success in high school, college, and a career. Think of it as making yourself #futuready. As an NJHS member, you’ll have exclusive access to robust tools and resources:

  • College admission and financial aid planning options, including webinars and a mini-website called Honor Your Future Now, which you can browse by yourself or with your family for college preparation tips
  • Help with financing your college education through the NJHS Outstanding Achievement Award, which each year recognizes 500 exceptional NJHS members who best reflect the values of membership with a $500 college savings award
  • Service projects, both by the chapter and individual, allow you to build teamwork capabilities, hone project management aptitude, and make friends—all valuable life skills
  • Leadership development, motivation, and inspiration gained through your own chapter’s work as well as three LEAD Conferences and NJHS State Summits held in select locations annually


How Can You Become a Member?

For starters, you’ll need strong grades. Once you have verified that your school has an active chapter, you must be in grades 6–8. (Students must be in their second semester of the sixth grade for consideration.)

Plato Academy Threshers Baseball Game

Plato Academy Schools - Threshers Baseball Game.

Plato PTO Night At The Ballpark - Multi-Campus Event - September 11th!


Baseball, Fun, and Love to First Responders


Please join us for this multi-campus event!


5:00 pm - Gates open - Game starts at 6:30 pm


Proceeds to benefit Plato Academy & Local Emergency First Responders!


Tickets are $20 each (if still available) – please contact your home campus PTO for more information.


ALL YOU CAN EAT AND DRINK FROM 5:00-7:30PM

Includes: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Peanuts, Popcorn, Chips, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Soft Drinks & Bottled Water. Draft Beer available for $2.50


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Plato Academy would like to thank Clearwater's Police Chief Daniel Slaughter and all of our dedicated PTO parent volunteers for helping to promote such a fantastic event!


We are proud to dedicate a portion of our ticket sales to PCSO Deputy Michael Magli's family.


Officer Magli served 8 years on the force. He sadly lost his life in the line of duty on February 17th, 2021. If you are unable to attend you can donate directly on the PTO website (100% of the donation will go to the charity) or donate through Suncoast Law Enforcement Charity.

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Greek Word of the Month

Symphony Origin Middle English: from Old French symphonie, via Latin from Greek sumphōnia, from sumphōnos ‘harmonious’, from sun- ‘together’ + phōnē ‘sound’.)


A percussionist once stood silent holding a little triangle (musical instrument) during the symphony performance he was a part of. He waited patiently for his one moment to strike it. One brief moment that may have seemed so insignificant to some, in actuality transformed the entire performance into something magical – similar to a Christmas carol or a Harry Potter symphony arrangement. One brief and humble contribution that instantly enhanced the entire arrangement with an ethereal appeal beyond the “major contributions” of all the other contributing instruments. Had the percussionist not struck his little triangle, the entire arrangement would have been void of the one little contribution that transformed it. This is the magic of symphonies that yields inspiration from the collaboration of vastly different instruments and techniques of the musical community, into the singular inspired voice arranged and presented to the world. As members of our inspired community of our Plato Academy Charter School, there is an important lesson here for us.


The lesson of the symphony example is of harnessing all of our varied gifts, talents, abilities, and strengths, into the singular voice of academic inspiration for our students, staff, and even our onlookers from the community at large. This is what helped bring our Plato Academy to the high stature of the respected schools that they are. This is what will help us continue to inspire. How? The answer is in the word itself: symphony.


This unified collaboration is a choice that each member makes to collaborate and act as one. Can you imagine if all the symphony musicians tried usurping the rhythm or doing their own thing? That would be a cacophony (yep, another Greek word). A symphony of synergy ensures togetherness so that no matter how big or how small one’s role or contribution is, it can have a profoundly transformative effect, just like the percussionist with his little triangle. You may not think your modest and humble participation matters, but it does. A modest and quite humble contribution can have profound effects that can inspire generations to come. A symphony of synergy could not be a better lesson for us today.

Contact our Board Members:

Louis Kokkinakos - Chairman of the Board: lkokkinakos@platoacademy.net

John Petalas - Vice Chairman: jpetalas@platoacademy.net

Yale Walker - Treasurer: walkery@platoacademy.net

George Antonaklas - Secretary: antonaklasg@platoacademy.net

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Plato Academy Schools Mission Statement

The mission of the Plato Academy Charter Schools is to assist students in achieving their full potential by requiring and nurturing high academic and behavioral standards in a safe, supporting, challenging, and enthusiastic environment, providing a well-rounded K-8 education fortified by a study of the Greek language and culture, and fostered by a commitment and cooperative effort among the school, students, parents, and community: our family.