Principal's Newsletter--March 2021

MARCH 26, 2021 UPDATE

Dear Students and Parents,

I just wanted to send a quick note and some well wishes for the upcoming vacation and holidays.  I cannot say enough how incredibly proud I feel to see the students back five days a week.  The hallways and classrooms are alive with an energy we haven’t seen since last spring.  The students are talkative, smiling, and reconnecting.  It feels like school once again.  Thank you all for your help in making this transition a smooth one and for remembering to complete the health screener every morning.

I want to extend a special thank you to the WHS PTA and the parents working with Mr. Amann and me on the 2021 Spirit Committee.  The banners and balloons welcoming back our students and our seniors were such an impressive way to “re-open” the high school.  I  know the students are extremely grateful.  Additionally, I have to thank this group and the senior parents for sending in the wonderful pictures of the Class of 2021 through their early years.  With Mrs. Abate’s help, over 1,000 pictures were put to music and a photo story has been playing in our front lobby all week.  Each day groups of seniors watch segments of the video remembering back to those moments with joy and laughter.  Thank you to Virginia Dronzek, Laura Lubart, Christine Martinez, Joanne Piazza, Donna Raguso, and Jennifer Walpole for all your help and dedication to creating memorable moments for the Class of 2021.

I wish you all a very relaxing Spring Break and I look forward to seeing everyone when we return on Tuesday, April 6.

Stay well!

Keith Schenker

PRINCIPAL UPDATE-MARCH 19, 2021

Dear Students and Parents,

We have spent the last few days making final preparations for the return to full in-person learning beginning Monday, March 22nd.  I am very pleased to report that we have a little less than 90% of our students returning to full in-person learning.  I want to thank the faculty for their thoughtful work these past several days in preparation for a return to block scheduling and teaching.  This, along with the flexibility and responsiveness over these past many months, has truly helped to ensure that student learning and engagement remained at the center of our practice.  Our custodial staff has done an outstanding job as well.  They have been working to ensure all the health and safety protocols shared in earlier communications have been put in place and that our classrooms are ready to receive our students back on Monday.

In addition to this incredible work, we have also been able to recreate a new master schedule that returns us to our usual 6-day cycle (ACE/BDF) calendar.  Students can review their schedules in eSchool and we will also have printed copies available for students in the lobby on Monday morning.  Schedules will be distributed at grade level tables by our Counseling Department. 

  • Students should pay close attention to the ACE day schedule as Lunch had to be added to everyone’s day.  Please pay close attention to your location for lunch as we carefully planned out the numbers of students reporting to either the “CAFE” (Far Cafeteria) or “SCAFE” (Senior Cafeteria).  In addition, we will have outside seating, both in the front of the school and outside the cafeterias to allow students additional eating areas beyond the cafeteria.
  • All lunch tables have a QR code and we remind each student to please scan the QR code at the table you are using during lunch!  This allows us to more accurately contact trace should the need arise.
  • Seniors, please look closely at your schedules; specifically, first block and last block locations.  If you had previously been approved for Late Arrival or Early Release based on the compressed schedule, these permissions have been applied to both your ACE and BDF schedules where applicable.
  • Remember, Monday, March 22nd is a “B” day.

I want to take an opportunity to celebrate some recent accomplishments of our students. 

  • Please join me in congratulating the Westlake Players on a very successful drama production, The Masks We Wear, and also announce their plans to perform “A Chorus Line (the High School version)” as our Spring Musical.  Our show dates are slated for the first weekend in June.
  • In the world of athletics, the Varsity Boys Basketball team had an incredible season taking the championship game with an impressive win over Bronxville.  Congratulations also goes out to Varsity Cheer for placing 4th in the regional championship on March 7. 
  • I want to take a moment and celebrate another Science Research accomplishment. Olivia Cartaño has won 3rd Place in her category, Behavioral Sciences, at the Upstate NY Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)! Olivia competed against the top 43 finalists from sub-regional JSHS competitions from across New York State.  This is an outstanding achievement for Olivia and the program.    
  • I want to acknowledge all our new inductees into the Spanish Honor Society.  You can watch the induction ceremony here:  https://whs.mtplcsd.org/spanish_honor_society_2021.  This accomplishment is a testament to our students’ continued dedication to the study of Spanish and the great work of their advisor, Ms. Mittelmann, and the other members of the World Language Department.  We will have other honor society induction ceremonies in April, with a look toward having some in-person celebrations once again.

Important Attendance Reminder

Please note that with the overwhelming number of students returning to in-person learning, many classes will no longer have class links open and cameras on.  Only those classes with students in full remote learning will maintain links for live-streaming.   If you are absent, please remember to call the attendance office; excused absences are those outlined by the NY State Department of Education. For absences other than those related to a COVID-19 exposure/quarantine, there will not be a remote learning option.

Important Reminders for Seniors

  • Remember Senior Experience commitment forms are due Friday, March 26th.  If you have any questions on how to complete the paperwork or about the different options, please stop in to see Mr. Amann or me.
  • It is time to begin celebrating all the incredible college news!  Please bring in your college pennant so we can recognize your commitment and display the future of the Class of 2021 in the main lobby.

Once again, we are excited to see the building back to full in-person learning and I want to thank all of you for your help and support through this journey.  Enjoy the weekend and I look forward to seeing everyone next week.

Stay well.

Keith Schenker

MARCH NEWSLETTER

Dear Students and Parents,

Regents Update:

I wanted to take a moment to quickly update everyone on the recent news regarding NY State Regents Exams.  New York, like many states, had submitted a waiver to the Department of Education to allow for all Regents Exams to be canceled this year in light of the impact from COVID-19.  The request was recently denied by the Federal Department Of Education.  In response to this, NY State has announced several steps that will be taken to reduce the overall impact of this decision.  What does this decision mean for our students?

  • As of this update (3/5/21) the only required Regents exams to be administered this June are:
    • Algebra
    • Living Environment (Biology)
    • Earth Science
    • ELA (English Language Arts)
  • All other Regents exams are not required by the Federal Government and have been canceled.  For graduation purposes, students in the courses that normally end with a Regents exam, and who successfully complete the course this year, will be given diploma credit for these exams (Global History, U.S. History).

This is the information that we have thus far; as new updates from NY State are announced, we will make sure you are informed.  The NY Board of Regents will be adopting further guidance on how these exams will be used at their March meeting.  That being said, regardless of whether your Regents class will or will not be administering a Regents exam, it is essential that students do everything in their power to successfully complete and earn credit for these courses.  Taking this approach will ensure that students, regardless of the Board of Regents’ decision in March, can earn both the credit for the course as well as the credit toward meeting graduation requirements.

Full Return Notification:

On a separate note, as we prepare for the return of all students to a 5-day a week in-person schedule, it is very important that you contact me if you are requesting a change in your child’s learning modality.  Specifically, all students currently in a hybrid schedule will be automatically switched to the 5-day in-person schedule and all students who are currently full remote will remain full remote, unless you contact me to request a change.  All such requests must be received by March 15th so we can properly prepare classrooms for student return.

Calendar Change:

Additionally, please note that Monday, March 15th is no longer a half-day for Cohort 1, it is now a regularly scheduled day for Cohort 1 students.  This shift was made in light of the 3 asynchronous days added to the calendar for that week on March 17, 18, and 19.

Detailed communication about the transition to full return will be coming next week.

Information regarding the AP Examination schedules will be sent to all AP students and families in a separate email.

PTA News:

Back by popular demand!  Get your Westlake gear from our online store, open now through Monday, March 15!  We have an assortment of hoodies, sweatpants, and t-shirts to show off your Wildcat pride.

https://www.bsnteamsports.com/shop/Jp1p5LnD5X 

Merchandise will arrive in early April and we will distribute from the WHS parking lot - details to come. Proceeds benefit the WHS PTA.  

Stay well.

Keith Schenker