Superintendent's Update - November 23, 2021

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

As we head into the Thanksgiving vacation, students and staff are looking forward to a much-deserved break.  This fall has been full of both successes and challenges, as we continue to enjoy the benefits of having full-time, in-person school; much-needed elementary space with the opening of the new Beal School; and overall excellent class sizes thanks to the resources provided by last spring's override vote. At the same time, we are experiencing a variety of issues stemming from the disruptions related to this long-lasting pandemic and other societal problems.  A number of students are demonstrating difficulty with reacclimating to a more typical school environment and experiencing increased levels of social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health concerns.  Our district's faculty, support staff, and leaders continue to work incredibly hard to build positive relationships with students and provide the environment, structure, and experiences that will promote both academic learning and social and emotional growth, and I am enormously grateful for their skillful efforts.  I will be speaking more to our current situation when I present an update to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting tonight, which will be broadcast live on SELCO Channels 30/330 and live streamed on the Shrewsbury Media Connection website here starting at 7:00pm.

In recent School Committee meetings several students were recognized for academic excellence and contributions to the school community.  Congratulations to SHS seniors Penelope Crosby and Dixi "Sissy" Han for earning the Superintendent's Award for Academic Excellence, and to SHS seniors Omer Alptekin and Madeline Duke for the National School Development Council Award for Academic Growth & Student Leadership in Learning; you can view their award presentations here.  I also want to recognize SHS Class of 2022 member Ryan Love for his success contributing to the SHS community and the SHS Unified Basketball program, and thank him for his presentation where he shared his vision for post-secondary success as part of the report on an exciting new, community-based post-graduate special education program that our district is creating.  SHS and Oak Middle School athletic teams had a very successful fall season as well. Almost all SHS teams qualified for post-season, with the SHS Boys Cross Country team winning both the league and district championship, and the SHS Field Hockey team winning the Central Massachusetts tournament championship and advancing to the Elite Eight in the statewide Division 1 playoffs, where they lost to the eventual state champion 1-0.    

If you are interested in the choices members of last year's SHS graduating Class of 2021 made for their post-secondary plans, you can watch a presentation here and see where students were admitted to and attended college or made other choices in this report.  We continue to emphasize students finding the best fit for them for their next step, whether college, the military, the workplace, or a gap year.  This report indicates that SHS students enjoy a range of many strong options by taking advantage of the many opportunities and strengths of our educational and co-curricular programs.

Finally, it is important to be aware of the continuing evolution of the pandemic.  The news is reporting a rise in case counts, and our district COVID-19 dashboard shows that we experienced this last week.  We have successfully maintained in-person learning without major disruptions, and your efforts to follow protocols that reduce the chance of contracting or spreading the virus are appreciated.  There is currently no Travel Order or Advisory in place for Massachusetts residents. Travelers are asked to follow CDC guidelines for domestic and international travel.  If you have plans for upcoming Thanksgiving travel, please check the Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 Travel website for up-to-date travel information and links to CDC recommendations. In case you missed it, our district is partnering with the Central MA Regional Public Health Alliance to offer a vaccine clinic for SPS families, primarily for younger students.  SPS families who are seeking vaccination against COVID-19 for their SPS students of any age or themselves can click here for information on dates, times, location, and how to register.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Among the many things I am thankful for, I remain truly grateful for the privilege to serve as your superintendent.  


Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

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