Dear Kents Hill Families,
It's the last day of COHOCO and even though the weather turned colder, students are in great spirits. One of my favorite things about COHOCO is that students from each class year participate, so 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders are getting to know each other in different ways with each activity they take on.
Students are also choosing their programs for our special Election Day. We will start the day with an introduction from our Student Council, followed by a civics lesson taught in conjunction with our faculty and our AP Government students, and then go into students choosing different aspects of politics that they want to learn about. Our faculty have come up with a really cool line-up of programs, from learning more about RBG, to understanding meme culture, to delving into the art, music, and advertising that accompanies politics in our country and the world. To me, this is a perfect example of our 4D learning. We are stepping away from our normal academic day to reflect on what is happening in our world, develop skills to make sense of the complexities of our current political landscape, build knowledge that helps us understand the systems we are operating in, and spend time really examining what role character plays in politics throughout the ages. Make sure to ask your child what lesson they signed up for and why.
I also wanted to share, as promised, the email I sent to students earlier this week identifying some of the ways we are working with them to give them a bigger sense of freedom, while also continuing to mitigate the risks from COVID-19.
We know that students do not always read their email, so please do talk with them about all of this. It is important for them to be able to vent, to talk about how hard things are, and then to be able to shift their mindset, just a little, to find the things they are grateful for. As our amazing student, and faculty, speakers told us at our Fall Academic Award Celebration, it is possible to persevere through really, really hard things. Community helps, as does perspective. For me, though, gratitude is the key. Pausing, even when things feel most challenging, to find something to appreciate is like a really, really deep breath.
Thank you, as always, for continuing to partner with us as we all figure this out together. We are almost into November and the weather for next week is in the 50's and sunny. Let's keep finding ways to stay connected and help these amazing kids navigate this unique time.
Happy COHOCO! It is so nice to see the sunshine today and all the students dressed like twins (or triplets or entire classes). I have had A LOT of conversations with many of you over the past few weeks focused specifically on you all wanting more freedom. Freedom to hang out together, freedom to leave campus, freedom to go home and see your families. You want normal. To feel like your entire life has not been taken over by COVID.
I wish I could offer you normal right now. So much. I completely understand missing what you had at this time last year. I miss those things in my own life-traveling, giving people hugs, inviting people into my home for dinner without a mask on, seeing friends, being with family. And yet, I also know that we can’t, yet, be normal. So how can we find that happy medium? Return to that place that we were at in the beginning of the year when we were so glad to be here together, in person, that we were okay with all of the masks and the social distancing?
We can take some small steps towards freedom. And if those go okay, we can take some more small steps. This is really important for you all to remember. For us to continue to provide space and freedom, you all need to follow the basic rules that we have set-wear masks, stay socially distanced, wash your hands, and limit your interactions with people outside of the Kents Hill community. Continuing to follow these guidelines, created by the CDC and based on scientific research as the best way to mitigate the risks of COVID, will allow us to stay together in person AND allow you some of the freedoms you have been asking for. Starting this week, the following modifications have been made to our campus (and off campus) navigation.
- All students, boarding and day, can be with their families over Thanksgiving and return to campus with a negative COVID test. Many more details went out in a letter to your families. Talk to your family about their plan and, if you have questions, reach out to Ms. Chick (email@example.com) or Ms. Michaud (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Boarding students will be able to leave campus on school-sponsored trips to different areas across Maine and will be able to go into stores and browse and shop, as long as they wear masks and can stay socially distanced. There are plenty of places in Maine where there are great shops and people are wearing masks.
- Boarding students wanting to leave campus for a weekend can, as long as they get a negative COVID test before returning to campus. For boarding students for whom home presents a very low risk (in Maine, parents working from home, etc.), they can request to go home and return without a negative COVID test. All requests will need to go through Diane Chick, Dean of Students, email@example.com.
- Boarding students may visit with faculty and faculty children at their homes, as long as they are able to remain masked and six feet apart (or are eating and sitting six feet apart) and the faculty member is present.
- The Bodman will be open to day students from 8 am-5:45 pm (except on Tuesdays, when it will open at 9 am) and will be a space where day students can bring their Student Center food, sit together, and eat-always remaining six feet apart and masked when not eating.
- The Commons will be open to boarding students from 8 am-7:30 pm and will be a space where boarding students can bring their Student Center food, sit together and eat-always remaining six feet apart and masked when not eating.
- The front of the Library and the living room in the Learning Center will be spaces where day and boarding students can sit together, remaining masked and six feet apart. Students should not eat food in these spaces.
- Boarding students can also visit with their day student friends in the day student lounges, as long as they stay in their grade-specific space (Fencing Studio for 9th graders, Chapel for sophomores, back of the Library for juniors, Dunn for seniors), they don’t exceed room capacity, and they keep their masks on. Students should not eat food in these spaces.
- Boarding students can visit with their friends in other dorms at night in the Commons (if the OD is on duty) and the Library (on Tuesday and Thursday nights). If you want to see your friends from other dorms, come to these spaces. We may even light the fire in the Commons!
- Students in double rooms will be able to have two student visitors(from the same dorm) in their rooms and students in single rooms will be able to have one student visitor (from the same dorm) in their room. Students will remain masked and socially distanced and the door will remain open whenever visitors are in rooms.
- Faculty will have the option of hosting food-related events in dorms. For these occasions, students can gather in the common room, seated six feet apart, and eat together. At all other times, students should only eat in their rooms.
I know this does not get us back to normal, but we hope that it gives a little more freedom to hang out with friends, get off campus, and enjoy food together. If you have more ideas that you want us to consider, shoot me an email, and we can find time to meet and talk. These ideas all came from you, the students who take the time to share both the challenges and the potential solutions, with adults around them. Thank you. To Reed, who spent hours with me, telling me all the things that they wanted to see changed. To the Student Council, who bring lots of ideas to me each week. To the students who fill out the surveys, we send out with your thoughts and ideas. While we can’t go back to normal, I think that together we can come up with a campus experience that is pretty good.