Dear VVS Families,
I hope this correspondence finds you and yours safe and healthy. While the pandemic has caused many disruptions, VVS has successfully weathered this year with many highlights. For the past several weeks, there is a sense of normalcy. The return of laughter at the courts, the crunch of bike tires on gravel, movies, karaoke on the quad, and the back and forth between teachers and students in classrooms. All that we have accomplished cannot help but make me proud of our school community and the students and staff that keep us moving forward. As a former faculty member recently said, “You all have done something extraordinary.” I concur.
Of course, we all know that there remains a missing piece to make us whole again, our day students and other students who are living in a virtual world of learning. There are so many variables that we cannot control, yet, there is hopeful news on the horizon. As we have stated since last July, we will monitor the gating benchmark of new Covid cases versus the number of tests being given over a two-week period - with a benchmark of 5% or less of new positive cases versus the number of Covid tests given. While only three weeks ago, Yavapai County had a rate that was among the highest in the country, the good news is that number is on a downward pattern and, as of April 1, 2021, is down to 7%. If the number continues its downward trend, we will communicate the timetable for day student return. We will follow all CDC Guidelines and the same protocols and processes as we did in the fall (Student Guidelines attached below). We all look forward to their return.
The 2021-2022 School Calendar
With vaccination becoming more widespread throughout the United States and worldwide, we remain hopeful that we will return to a greater sense of normalcy for the 2021-2022 academic year. In the coming months, we expect that vaccines will become increasingly available for school-age students throughout the US and worldwide. To this end, we have scheduled our school start date a bit later in August again for next year to increase the likelihood that VVS students will be vaccinated before the start of school. The 2021-2022 calendar is attached below.
We anticipate returning to our typical yearly schedule, which includes Family Weekend, Field Expeditions in October, a week-long Thanksgiving Break in November, an extended Winter Break in December, and Spring Break in March. We recognize how challenging this year with fewer breaks has been for our staff, our students, and their families, and we look forward to returning to our regular schedule.
It is that time we begin counting down the days. It is always so bittersweet. VVS enjoys this time of year like no other school I have worked. We embrace the upcoming traditions with a zest and enthusiasm that brings infectious laughter and reflection, and we hang on to each moment, knowing that May 30th is only moments away. This is also the season for guidance and growth. While I can cite many examples, one of the true signature programs at VVS is our Senior Speech series. It is one of our blessings to witness each senior give a speech to the community. This year is no exception. I am struck by the power of their messages, the sharing of their journeys, and their advice to others as they look ahead to their next step. Over and over again, seniors leave their legacy through action and words. The senior speech is among the many gifts and lessons we receive at VVS. I have learned so much in the past six years from so many, but some of life’s best lessons have come through the voices of our seniors.
We have all managed a lot this past year. Staff, students, families, and friends have all been deeply impacted by the world around us. We have been challenged. We have also benefited from this experience to become better, gentler human beings. We have found so many ways to overcome adversity, build relationships over a virtual event, and focus on the things that matter in our lives. We also have come to know that pandemics, political rhetoric, and civil unrest have provided us with resolve - to make a positive difference in the lives of others. To build, and create a healthier and safer world. As we say often, there is no more important time for VVS to exist - the world needs us!
Paul Amadio Head of School
Verde Valley School