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Letter for Senior Class 2020

May 1, 2020

Dear Senior Class of 2020,

I remember thinking back at the turn of the 21st century: what will education look like for the Class of 2020?  2040?  2060? I envisioned a little bit of the Jetsons maybe, robots doing a lot of the domestic work at home (I have a Roomba!),  communication happening live, face to face (Yes, I can work that part of my smartphone…), and transportation being different (My car talks to me, tells me to stay in my lane!)  Something I didn't envision for the Class of 2020 was the COVID-19 pandemic.  I feel for the losses your class is facing, and I hope in some way there is some good that comes out of this… maybe the creation of more resilient citizens?  My own family is not immune to the situation, as my nephew is a Westbrook senior.  I speak with him (don’t see him, though) frequently and hear how this is impacting him.  There must be a silver lining somewhere...

Beyond the loss of interpersonal relationships with peers and school personnel, sports and club activity, there are things like: Red Carpet Week, Project Graduation, walking the halls of your previous schools in caps and gowns, and senior ball that will be lost or will take on significantly different looks. Our job right now as NOBLE STRONG people is to figure out what we can do to make the best of the toughest situation faced by a graduating class in a very long time.

This past weekend I saw National Corona Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx in a Meet the Press interview.  She was asked what she thought about states choosing to ease restrictions at this time.  Her appropriately-guarded response was, "Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these [reopening] phases." Governor Mills shared her phases to reopen the state yesterday, and the banning of gatherings of more than 50 will be in place at least through August.  

While the NHS administration is working on alternative plans for as many replaceable events as possible, the biggest question is obviously graduation.  Given the current circumstances, it is honestly not possible for any district to project a realistic graduation date or to predict fully what can be accomplished for a Class in terms of a public celebration. To offer a later graduation summer date provides false hope at this time. We are currently developing a virtual graduation ceremony.  We want to bring closure for the graduates of the Noble class of 2020 and we want to ensure 100% participation. Your class will always be known for the struggles around COVID-19. We grieve the loss of physically coming together to celebrate in June, but we want to focus on your accomplishments and allow you to move into the next phase of your lives with some finalization. Our hope is that we will be able to develop a future celebratory event; however, we want to be practical in our stance that we cannot see what the future of the COVID-19 pandemic holds.   

You will be receiving communication from the NHS administration outlining a request for information to contribute to the virtual graduation ceremony.  We ask that you follow the directions carefully regarding what can or can’t be included and provide that material according to communication deadlines. At the very least, let’s make sure the video becomes a keepsake and hallmark of your achievements versus merely a result of the pandemic.  

In closing, I hope you and your families are all well.  This is an interesting way to go into retirement. I was hoping to celebrate on that stage with you in June;  however, I will be with you in spirit. Your continued patience and understanding until more is known will be yet another testament to your Class.  STAY NOBLE!


Steve Connolly

Superintendent of Schools

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