May 15, 2020 (12:00 PM)
Thank you for your continued efforts in supporting our youth through some of the most challenging times they may have ever encountered in their young lives. I know, even as adults, it is difficult to process and navigate the many onerous responsibilities while remaining positive and encouraging. I want to assure you that the entire school department staff--many of whom are parents themselves--are trying their best to make end-of-year activities meaningful and support our youth around their feelings of loss. There is no doubt this is difficult for all families, especially the Class of 2020, but we are a strong community and we will prevail together.
Next Tuesday, May 19th at 6 PM, the Public Hearing for the Proposed FY21 School Department Budget will take place via Zoom. Similar to other organizations, we have had to make some changes to the original proposed budget due to the impact of this pandemic, including delaying some new programs. The meeting link can be found on the City Council Meeting Agenda and I encourage you to join to learn more.
ATHLETIC AWARDS CEREMONY:
Next Tuesday, May 19th at 6 PM, we will kick-off our first virtual celebration with the BHS Athletic Awards. Athletic Director Dennis Walton will present Senior Varsity Letters, SMAA All-Academic, SMAA Citizenship Awards, Iron Tiger Awards, Golden Tiger Awards, Principal’s School Spirit Award, Brother Richard Hebert Award, and the Stephen F. White Award. Seniors Claudia Janelle and Jillian Lewis speak at the event and there are several inspiring videos to conclude the event. Please join us to watch the premiere as we publish the link on the BHS Athletics webpage and all social media platforms at the date/time above.
CLASS OF 2020 SENIOR EVENTS:
With feedback from student representatives of the Class of 2020 and approval of the School Committee, we believe we have planned an innovative, meaningful graduation ceremony inclusive of all seniors within the Maine DOE guidelines. The seniors’ main request was to be able to celebrate together in one location and this will be possible by broadcasting the graduation at Saco Drive-In. The plan allows for the graduates to march and walk the stage in advance with smaller groups for producing the film, have their photos taken professionally, and then celebrate as a full group on Wednesday, June 17th at 9 PM at the premiere. Due to the limited capacity of one vehicle per graduating student, the school department will broadcast simultaneously on the website, social media platforms, and Biddeford public access at 9:00 PM for community viewing as it streams live at the drive-in.
The support for our seniors has been inspiring as orange and gold candlelight sales soar and begin to glow throughout Biddeford and Saco. If you have not yet had a chance to purchase yours, sales will be held next week on Tuesday, May 19 from 10 AM - 2 PM and Wednesday, May 20 from 5 - 7 PM at both TA and Waterhouse Field. Gold and orange lights are available for a suggested donation of $5 each and a limited supply of electric window candles are available for $4 each (note: the bulbs will not work in battery-operated holders). Cash, check or Venmo (@KarenChasse) is accepted - simply stay in your car, and distribution will occur in a drive-thru manner. In honor of our seniors, all funds raised will be split equally between the two towns to help feed families in our communities. Families are encouraged to share their photos on social media with the hashtag #SeniorsUnite2020 and join us for Senior Night on Friday, June 5th at 6:30pm followed by our virtual Candlelight Ceremony at 7 PM.
The school department runs several programs in the summer, ranging from an academic program for English Language Learners to BLAST! Our Portland-based partner LearningWorks has announced that it is moving all programming (including BLAST!) online. Pending guidance from the MDOE, we anticipate doing the same; even if the Governor lifted social distancing restrictions at the expiry of her current executive order, our talented and dedicated staff need time to plan and develop lessons and we must sharpen our planning focus. We commit to stakeholders that regardless of long-awaited DOE guidance, we will make an internal decision about summer programming no later than next Friday, May 22.
School Administrators are currently meeting on a regular basis to develop contingency plans for the next school year. At this time there are many unknowns regarding the CDC’s guidelines that will be in place this fall, but what we do know is that we must begin planning to be prepared for all possible scenarios:
School as usual;
Re-opening in phases or a modified schedule to reduce capacity;
Develop a continuum of distance learning; or,
A blend of classroom instruction and distance learning.
This planning and the details to determine their feasibility are massive. Please be patient as we research all aspects including academic impact on students, the financial impact on taxpayers, childcare impact on parents, and workforce impact of our own staff. Although we may not know the final “education model” until the Maine CDC makes their recommendations and the governor releases the guidelines for Phase IV, we want to ensure we are prepared to respond accordingly.
I continue to ask for your patience as I wait to communicate plans until details are finalized to minimize confusion and speculation on social media. For the most up-to-date information, please stay connected with us at biddefordschools.me/health, and direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-391-6868.
Superintendent of Schools
Jacques Named New Interim Principal of Biddeford High School
The Biddeford School Committee approved the appointment of Martha Jacques as interim principal for Biddeford High School (BHS), starting July 1, 2020. Jacques currently serves as Principal of the Alternative Pathways Center and has been employed within the Biddeford School Department since 2009 in various capacities.
“When considering a potential candidate pool and search process during this extraordinary time, it was clear that Martha was the best person to lead BHS,” said Superintendent Jeremy Ray. “She not only has a wide range of experience in business, non-profits, and education but she has data-driven results and advocates for the social-emotional needs of a diverse student population. Martha’s multiple degrees in social work and education leadership undergird a unique skill set that is well-suited to meet the needs of the BHS faculty and student body.”
Jacques is an undergraduate of Castleton University and holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Maine and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Saint Joseph’s College. She holds her Building Administrator Certification from the State of Maine and is a Licensed Social Worker. Jacques is a board member of CHCC’s Project Alliance. In addition to her professional affiliations, Jacques is involved with various community organizations including Apex Youth Connections, Engine, the Heart of Biddeford, and the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine.
"I am humbled, honored, and excited to have been chosen to lead Biddeford High School as the interim principal,” said Martha Jacques. “I am looking forward to building relationships with staff, students, families, and our community and continuing the great work that has been started, and extremely proud to be making history as Biddeford High School’s first female principal."
Jacques resides in Biddeford with her husband and long-time teacher, Jon, and is the proud mother to Grady who attends Biddeford Intermediate School.