We made it! Semester 1 of the school year remained in-person thanks to the cooperation across our entire community. It was a daunting goal in August to remain in person as we entered the year with uncertainty again. The hero’s journey guides our narrative with excitement and hope at the beginning, slogging through the challenges in the middle, and then success, exhaustion and gratitude at the conclusion of the journey. The middle was particularly challenging for our entire community but with the singular focus to do what’s best for students, we all aligned to find success.
STEM has a tradition of a holiday party for staff the Thursday before the break. Each year a new venue and theme keep the event fresh and exciting. Last night was the first time in two years STEM could celebrate staff with a holiday party. Dinner, dancing and lots of laughter brought us together.
We have time to learn more about each person’s family and their personal lives through meeting spouses and significant others. I learned that one of our teachers lived in Peru until age 9 and another has five extremely successful young adult daughters. The dance floor was alive with talent worthy of Dancing with the Stars! One of our husband-and-wife teacher pairs even had a choreographed dance routine that inspired us all to join. Seeing everyone dressed for a party and enjoying time together marked a high point for the close of the semester.
A festive holiday party for 200 does not just happen. A team of talented and dedicated leaders stepped up to help plan, decorate and organize every detail. I would like to thank Michelle Gasser, Maura Ridder and LynAnn Kovalesky for taking on this great task. I would also like to thank our amazing parent volunteers who stepped up to help with table decorations in record time. Also, to the staff at the Lakeshore Restaurant at Cherry Creek State Park, your service and care of all of us was outstanding. If you have not been, I recommend taking advantage of this gem that we have in our own backyard.
The end of the semester was also celebrated with gift cards for all of our staff. A big thank you to all of our families who contributed to the Holiday Gift Card Program. It’s an annual tradition that we are so grateful for and continues due to the generosity of our community. As stated in the letter that goes with the gift cards, “We wish you abundance, happiness and peace in 2022!” (See image to the right)
STEM is a truly unique community where all of our stakeholders expect far more than other schools. The standard is high and ever-rising in a time of extreme challenges. The abundance of heartfelt gratitude that our community showers on staff this time of year make a huge difference in feelings of belonging and partnership. One holiday card sent to me by a STEM family made me smile – “We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy 2022 without so many of our unpleasant emails.” Accepted!
I wish you all good things for a relaxing and restorative winter break. Our staff returns on Monday, Jan. 3, students on Tuesday, Jan. 4, and we will begin Part 2 of the Hero’s Journey.
Happiest of Holidays and great blessings for the New Year!
P.J. Eucker PhD