June 17, 2022
Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,
On this last day of the 2021-2022 school year, I want to thank you all for supporting our students through what was both a very challenging and rewarding year. I am glad that we were able to meet our goal of maintaining full-time, in-person learning despite the difficulties of managing through student and staff absences due to COVID-19. Our schools worked very hard to support students' social, emotional, and mental health needs along with their academic needs as we addressed the impact that the pandemic had on so many. I am very proud of the efforts our staff made to help all of our students feel a sense of unconditional acceptance and belonging; there was excellent work done that made a positive difference for students, and we also know that we need to continue these efforts in order to help more of our students feel that they belong, as demonstrated by the survey data we reported this past Wednesday, and to help students who continue to struggle due to the upheaval of the past few years.
It is important that our school communities continue to recognize the many human differences represented among our students and families, and to put into action our stated core value to "honor each person’s individuality, celebrate our community’s diversity, and support school cultures of mutual acceptance and respect." I am glad that there are two important ways that our society has evolved to celebrate diversity at this time of year, those being Pride Month and Juneteenth.
On behalf of SPS, best wishes for a happy Pride Month to all of our students and their family members, colleagues, and community members who identify as LGBTQ+. While there is a much higher degree of acceptance and celebration of LGBTQ+ people in our society, unfortunately we know that our LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to suffer from mental health challenges, including self harm and suicidality, and this is also the case among our own SPS students as reported in our Regional Youth Health Survey. With school out for summer, please remember that there are LGBTQ+ supports such as those listed here on Mass.gov, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found here or by calling 1-800-273-8255, and the Crisis Text Line can be reached by typing HOME to 741741.
This is the second year that Juneteenth is a federal and state holiday (observed on Monday, June 20 since June 19 falls on Sunday; all of our schools and the School Department office will be closed due to the holiday). As the Library of Congress notes, Juneteenth recognizes the date when African Americans in Texas received the news of emancipation, and it has "become a symbolic date representing the African American struggle for freedom and equality, and a celebration of family and community." On behalf of SPS, I wish all of our African American students, families, colleagues, and community members a happy Juneteenth. As our survey data show, we have continued work to do to increase the feelings of acceptance and belonging that our Black students feel in our schools, and Juneteenth reminds us of the painful history of slavery and discrimination that must inform our efforts to ensure equity in the education our students receive.
There are some additional news items to share and celebrate that I will pass along in Part 2 of this update a little later today. As school lets out for summer vacation, please accept my sincere thanks for all that you did for our community's young people throughout this past year. We can all take pride in the fact that our SPS staff did incredible work this year under trying circumstances, that our families provided important support, and our town as a whole ensured we had the necessary resources. Best wishes for a wonderful summer with family and friends!
Superintendent of Schools