Letter from Superintendent: July 4, 2020

  • Community and Parents

July 4, 2020

 

Dear Members of the Westside Family,

The celebration of our nation’s independence provides us an important opportunity to reflect on the events of this past spring. In forging our nation, our Founding Fathers laid out lofty principles by which the nation should be established. The Declaration of Independence, which is recognized on July 4th every year, contains the following familiar statement, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The devastating deaths we’ve seen on the media this past spring have created shockwaves throughout our country and made clear that our efforts to live up to that creed are incomplete. We grieve with their families and our fellow citizens.

As the protests are giving rise to needed conversations about equality, equal opportunity, understanding, acceptance of everyone, we must focus most importantly on inclusion and a zero tolerance for discrimination. Those conversations are necessary in our school community as well as our community at large if meaningful and measurable change is ever to occur.

Westside Union School District is guided by the principle of being “absolutely committed to providing a safe, distinguished and engaging learning environment that ensure all students learn to their highest potential.”

The Board has also pursued the specific goal for the past two years to “build the capacity of the board and district staff in developing and monitoring data related to goals and priorities specifically in the area of cultural responsiveness and educational equity.” To that end, we are carefully examining the data of our students’ success and have concluded that this is an area that needs improvement. We invite parents and other community members to join us as we continue to explore this data so that we can ensure all of our students have the necessary tools to achieve and thrive. We value your thoughts and input on how we can improve at what we do in this regard. We know that we still have a long path on this journey, but we are steadfast in our resolve.

Most of all, It is important for all of us to work together. We can do better and we can be better. Each of us has the personal power to make our country and specifically our community better and help healing to take place. This healing is desperately needed but demands change. We must be united in our mission to support each other, value our differences, accept our uniqueness, and still come together to create a more understanding, caring and compassionate world. It is also important for all of us to listen to the thoughts being shared with us and help to make changes to help all of our citizens have access to the tools and opportunity for success.

It was recently suggested to me that posting information about age-appropriate literature for parents or teachers to access and share with the children could stimulate meaningful conversations about one another, our history, culture and most importantly our futures. I was immediately impressed with this idea and, as such, the District is launching a literature sharing corner on our website that will provide access to resources for parents and teachers. Additionally, we will be expanding our monthly calendar of special dates that more fully recognizes historically important events and we will invite sharing of age-appropriate material to expand awareness about those dates. In the coming weeks, you will find directions on how to suggest books and materials for sharing.

As many of you know, since the formation of Quartz Hill High School, Quartz Hill Elementary School has been considered a little brother/sister school. In fact, the school mascot is the Jr. Rebels. Though several changes have been made to the Quartz Hill High School mascot over the years, and subsequently the changes have followed suit at Quartz Hill Elementary School, in the coming year Quartz Hill High School will be making a permanent change to its mascot and in keeping with tradition, the Quartz Hill Elementary School mascot will be changed as well.

These are just a few immediate examples of how we are working to make Westside more accessible to all students. We cannot simply wait for change to come; we must act and create the conditions for change. This, as always, requires our partnership with students, staff, parents and the community. We hope you will step up at your school to help us make changes so that all students thrive.

May the 20-21 school year be one in which we achieve greater success in our relationships with one another, ensure that our students can achieve, that we continue to strive for; excellence not only in our academic work but also in our social/emotional relationships with one another.

We stand united against racism and intolerance. Our staff is ready to support any of our students as they continue to process what is happening. Many of our children may have experienced trauma and emotional distress at all of the events that have happened these past months. Being separated from their friends, while perhaps seeing frightening things in the media, and trying to make sense of all of it, may have caused emotional trauma, anxiety or other emotional concerns. If that is the case, we have staff that can help as well as resources available on our website that may be beneficial as your answer your children’s questions.

Maya Angelou once said, I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. With open hearts, together we will strive to make the 20-21 school year better for our entire community.

 

Sincerely,

Regina L. Rossall, Superintendent