The New School Year has Launched!

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The first day of school had tremendous excitement and energy K-12. Every grade rejoiced at being back with friends, teachers, and massive same-age peers. Conversing with a table of chatty third-grade girls, I was informed which ones had been virtual last year and how happy they are to all be back together. High School students congregated at the shady outdoor tables catching up with each other. Throughout the school, it just felt right. School as a school should be; an ecosystem of student and staff connections.

Our new staff is finding their way around the complex campus just the same as our new students. We are all circulating helping with locker combinations, escorting the lost, and just being a support for whatever is needed. The cognitive load managing the physical movement is high. Please let your student know it takes a few weeks to feel competent with Canvas, our Blue/Gold day schedules, Friday Silver days, and all of the complexities of a large K-12 campus. We ask a lot of our students. Once they develop the competencies, they are ready for the world.

Driveline has been a challenge with almost all of our families back. Our whole staff is pitching in where they can. Even some of our parents are volunteering each day to help us get cars in, unloaded and then reloaded at the end of the day. STEM’s SRO, Deputy Gabe Uribe, has requested more assistance from his short-staffed department to help us with our traffic flow of getting cars out of our parking lots.

Please be patient and kind and listen to all their directives. It is so crucial that we all follow the carefully planned out processes. One glitch in the system causes ripple effects and delays that compound. We’ve already seen improvements and I want to personally thank everyone who is using the driveline correctly, crossing at the crosswalks, being kind to those who are still learning and even helping our new families get onboarded. By the end of the second week, the driveline will be a model of efficiency. Hang in there! It does get better.

Our Kindergarteners started their first official day of school on Wednesday as we welcomed close to 100 new students to our STEM community. It was a day of smiles and tears by both our families and our students, but by the time our youngest learners got into their rooms, their fears subsided and they enjoyed a fulfilling day. I even met a fellow “Penelope” who was super excited to be at STEM.

DCSD returned on Monday of this week for a full five-day week. STEM wisely adjusted to a four-day return to reduce the fatigue of moving from a summer schedule to a school schedule. One kindergarten class practiced our dismissal procedures during the day, complete with getting their backpacks on and walking out the door. Redirecting them back to class after their practice was a comical challenge.

As you head into this weekend, I hope that you take some time to relax and reflect on the weeks ahead. Normal routines do not yet feel routine. Activities, athletics, clubs, and more will be ramping up and it will seem daunting, but I encourage you to take it in stride and enjoy these opportunities that we missed last year.

So we made it through the first week as a diverse community of roughly 5,000 all cooperating to position our students for maximum success this year. Each day we are in person is a win for our students. We are all so grateful to be back as a full-capacity school.

We are #STEMStrongerTogether,

P.J. Eucker PhD
Executive Director

Penny and Penelope
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