May is a busy month for celebrations and special observances in Cabarrus County Schools. Just last week, we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week. Now, more than ever, we say ‘thank you’ to our teachers. They have had a challenging year having to navigate in-person and remote learning, adapt to changing safety guidelines and operating schedules. They have completely changed the way they teach and are still connecting with their students regardless of where they are learning.
I hope you had a chance to watch our Teacher of the Year Recap video, but in case you missed it, you can view it in the New & Noteworthy section of our district website.
This month, we also will celebrate National School Nurse Day on May 12th. We have a long-standing partnership with Cabarrus Health Alliance and its school nurse program. Throughout the pandemic, and especially as we have returned to in-person learning, our school nurses’ knowledge and expertise have been invaluable.
May also is Mental Health Awareness Month. Our teams of school social workers, psychologists and counselors are dedicated professionals who offer our students and families a variety of programs and resources to support their emotional health and well-being. This month, we also will observe Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to recognize the contributions and influence Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have made to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
Other notable observances this month include National School Lunch Hero Day and National Child Care Provider Day on May 7th and National Police Week May 10th-14th. We are thankful to our School Nutrition staff, KIDS:PLUS staff and our School Resources Officers who tirelessly serve our students to ensure their care, health, and safety before, during, and after school hours.
In just a few short weeks, we will close out the 2020-2021 academic year, but there is much to do before we get to the last day of school on June 3. Students are either taking or preparing to take year-end exams, and schools are planning for the flurry of year-end activities like field days, awards programs and other year-end celebrations.
Our high schools also are busy planning events and experiences to celebrate the Class of 2021, which all leads up to graduation. Changes to the state’s mask mandates and more relaxed gathering restrictions, as well as requests from the community led us to change our plans for graduation ceremonies. We are thrilled to host ceremonies that will ‘look and feel’ a little more like a traditional graduation, and we are excited to return to Charlotte Motor Speedway as we celebrate the Class of 2021.
We are happy that we were able to change our plans and provide our seniors and their families this graduation experience. All the plans we originally had in place were made based on the health and safety guidance in effect at the time. We simply could not plan an event of this scale and magnitude – 11 graduations, more than 2,500 graduates in two days – based on unconfirmed changes to COVID mandates or the hope that restrictions would change. Just as we have throughout the pandemic, we continue to balance the desire for normalcy with our obligation to protect the health and safety of our students and staff.
At this point in the school year, it is a good time for us all to stop and reflect on the challenges and successes we have experienced. While the challenges have been many, we have also learned how resilient and compassionate our Cabarrus County Schools community is. We have forged new friendships and partnerships, and we have learned that there is not anything we can’t accomplish if we stay united in our focus on students.