Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021: Lessons I will take with me into the New Year

I think we would all agree that we are glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. I went into last year at Colorado Academy with such hope. But early on, we lost a dear friend and colleague in a tragic accident. And then came COVID-19.

Our nation has experienced so much in the past year. Its impact has been so negative on many young people. Students, both in PreK-12 and college, had to adjust to remote learning. This meant long hours on screens. It meant not having the kinds of social contact that all humans need to be healthy. Families felt tremendous anxiety as the economy collapsed, and we felt fear about the potentially devastating impact of this virus.

Americans then experienced the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. We heard from our students and alumni about what CA could do to be more responsive to racial injustice, and we also heard about the pain many of our diverse students feel when they face racism and bigotry. As we entered the fall, we dealt with a contentious and divisive presidential election and a pandemic that only got worse as more than 300,000 Americans died of COVID-19 by the end of December.

As we come back to school in January, we know that the next several months will bring difficult days. The news on the vaccine is very promising. CA is in the process of rolling out a student testing program that will potentially allow us to bring more students back to campus on a daily basis. I hope that we can continue to be vigilant and disciplined as a community in the months ahead. When I put on my mask and do my daily health screening, I take those actions because I want to do everything to keep my community and my family safe. Current infection rates in the nation and state are being driven primarily by our collective behavior. To be sure, we are all tired of COVID-19; but, if we can hang in there while the vaccine is distributed, we can save lives.

Taking 2020 lessons into 2021

2020 brought tough lessons for sure, and some I will apply going forward into 2021. Throughout this experience, we have learned the value of putting others first. This generation of students has had to sacrifice in a way our nation hasn’t seen since the 1940s. It hasn’t been easy, and all of us have stumbled.

I am so grateful for our faculty and staff, who have risen to this moment in inspiring ways, and to our students, for taking this seriously and with a sense of obligation for their fellow citizens and community members. I hope we can hold onto our sense of interconnectedness.

We also saw tremendous generosity from our families, as the school raised more than $400,000 for an Emergency Tuition Assistance Fund. We experienced a community grateful for our teachers and their efforts to change their teaching to serve our students. No matter if we were a child or an adult, we came to understand just how important Colorado Academy is in our lives. We learned that we took certain things for granted—recitals, art shows, athletic competitions, musical and theater productions, and in-person learning. Not one of us is going to take simple things for granted anytime soon. I know of some school communities that became bitterly divided over their pandemic response. That did not happen here. We came together as a community, and I could not be more proud to be part of Colorado Academy.

So, going forward, let’s continue to put our mission into practice. We have faced COVID-19 with kindness and courage. To be sure, we have months to go before we are out of our current reality. Every day I feel more confident that we are going to get back to normal during 2021. When that happens, I hope we can continue to be the best that we can be.