More Than Ever a Time for Thanksgiving.
To say 2020 has been an interesting year is an understatement. To think of it as somewhat of a black hole is understandable but not totally correct. Even during elections, pandemics, and weather-related phenomena this remains a year of thanksgiving.
The official holiday we know as Thanksgiving is interesting. Granted, the Pilgrims seemed to kick off the present view of Thanksgiving: feasts, friendships, and fellowship. Turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato casserole are staples in many homes.
This year, the foods may remain the same but due to COVID-19 but the gatherings, the fellowships are likely curtailed. Black Friday shopping will likely be a boon for Amazon and other e-shopping websites.
But the true spirit of Thanksgiving really isn’t the meal, the relatives and friends, it is far more about our own remembrances and personal choices to see the glass as half full.
Abraham Lincoln has been credited with saying, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Whether apocryphal or not, the message is clear and its intent concise.
District 56 has been blessed with a near COVID-free first nine weeks. Yeah, the week before the Thanksgiving holiday week was rough…but it was far more difficult for those quarantined (considered “close contact”) than for those infected.
Thanks to federal and state funding, the district was able to secure mountains of PPE, hand sanitizer, and, most recently, plexiglass.
Our teachers and administrators worked tirelessly to ensure safety for staff and students alike.
We were able to complete our football, tennis, volleyball, and cross-country seasons at the middle and high schools.
When this pandemic shuttered the activities back in March, schools continued…though imperfectly. We met students via computers and did our best to let the students know we missed and loved them.
We had our first outdoor graduation and senior awards night back in early June. It didn’t rain and wasn’t that uncomfortable.
We started school with a face-to-face option and over seventy percent of students and parents chose that option. For the remaining thirty percent, we harnessed resources with Laurens 55 and offered the Laurens County Virtual Academy.
According to survey data from parents, we prepare for more students to return to face-to-face second semester across all three levels—elementary, middle and high.
Throughout the chaos of COVID-19, our Food Service Department continued to provide meals for all students eighteen and younger…even younger than school-aged. These meals required a herculean effort preparing and serving meals. A coordinated effort by Food Service and Transportation ensured children would continue to serve meals in outlying areas.
Despite COVID-19, our community came together, worked together, and made the best of a pretty awful situation.
So, let’s be thankful. Let’s be appreciative for all the sacrifices made by so many people…not just here but across our state and nation.
I don’t know what the future holds. I do believe we will see brighter days. I do believe we will beat this virus…and I do believe we, as Americans, will come together not as political parties but as people.
You see, while researching the origins of Thanksgiving, I found It odd for a holiday to be set in November, especially New England November.
Some scholars contend what we now recognize as Thanksgiving (along with a little help from Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt) actually took the place of a now-forgotten holiday…National Evacuation Day (the day when the last of the British troops left the newly minted The United States).
So, in keeping with the remnants of National Evacuation Day, let’s put aside, cast off the negative feelings, the hopelessness, and the despair and give thanks for all the blessings we have…even during a pandemic.
May it be so!
Dr. David O’Shields is Superintendent of School District 56.