July 3, 2020
Good morning GCHS Families,
Thank you to the families that have already completed the requested survey. If you have not completed it, please click here to do so. A few questions have been posed as a result of yesterday’s survey, so I wanted to share this brief follow-up so that all families have common information.
Starting the school year in one particular model does not mean that we will remain in that model throughout the school year. We anticipate we may be asked to flow from one model to the next at times during the school year. We would like nothing less than for 100% in-person learning for all students. However, with the guidance provided and directives changing regularly, we find ourselves in a position of needing to explore multiple possibilities for the beginning of the school year. That includes considering beginning at a reduced capacity to implement the recommended guidance with as much fidelity as is possible and also plan for the possibility of remote learning. If we were to begin the school year in a blended manner, it would be wonderful to find ourselves in a position ready to transition to 100% in-person learning shortly into the year. With the wellbeing of students and staff in mind, we will carefully consider both parent and staff feedback as we consider all options over the next several weeks.
Additionally, a few questions have come up regarding access to requested courses in the blended model and remote learning model. As we consider the blended option, it is our intent that students would continue to be enrolled in the courses they have requested and we will continue to follow the traditional bell schedule, to the greatest extent possible. With a blended model, teaching and learning would be occurring in assigned classes Monday through Friday, with two days occurring in-person and three days remotely. However, we would aim for some remote learning days to include live/synchronous learning as well.
There are many factors to take into consideration with a fully remote learning model. Potentially this could come as a directive from ISBE/IDPH to transition fully to remote learning days or an opt-in provision could be contemplated for families not comfortable returning next year. We will take feedback into account when weighing any and all remote learning options.
As you can imagine, all the options we have posed to you require a great deal of planning and we are still working to define each. Even if a “normal” return was possible, there is much to plan for to abide by the required ISBE/IDPH guidance.
We ask for your continued patience and flexibility as we move forward with planning efforts. Your feedback is very important to us, so please complete the survey if you have not. I will be in touch in the next several weeks with an update, with the goal to communicate our 20/21 learning options on or about July 20, 2020.
Christine A. Sefcik, Ed.D.
June 30, 2020
As you are aware, we recently shared the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Restore Illinois Phase 4, Part 3 Transition Guidance for Reopening Illinois schools with you. Part 3 Guidance provides for the possibility of opening school in some form of in-person learning, including normal opening with adaptations or a hybrid/blended opening. In addition, ISBE continues to allow for an enhanced remote learning opening as well.
With the recent guidance provided, we would like to get an updated sense of preference from our families regarding the possible school opening options:
Full in-person learning with adaptations (required daily self-health assessment, temperature checks, masks, and social distancing when and if possible).
Hybrid/Blended opening with alternating in-person and enhanced remote learning instruction. Students split into two groups with each group participating in two days of in-person instruction and two days of enhanced remote learning. This would split the student body in half and allow for social distancing.
Full remote learning
Your input will be advisory and will truly help inform our planning and decision-making. All three school opening options are subject to our ability to staff and schedule them safely and successfully according to the guidance provided.
Please submit your response to the survey no later than Tuesday, July 7.
As always, thank you for your assistance!
Christine A. Sefcik, Ed.D. Superintendent
June 24, 2020
Dear Grant Community High School Families:
Yesterday afternoon the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released guidance for schools on the 2020-21 school year. If you’d like to review the guidance, you can find it here.
This 60-page document has been much anticipated and will go a long way toward answering critical questions all of us share about what the 2020-21 school year may look like in terms of in-person learning, scheduling, social distancing, wearing masks, transportation, and other measures intended to keep everyone safe and healthy, while also re-engaging students in the learning process.
We ask for your patience as we review this information and begin to formulate plans for next school year that align with the newly released guidance. As I’ve shared with you previously, we do have planning teams in place and meeting regularly. This guidance will certainly assist in those conversations and I’m confident our district can put forth a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our students while maintaining a dynamic learning environment.
We are very aware of the urgent need to communicate to families about what to expect next school year and will do our very best to share our plan by mid-July.
Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as our district and community navigate a situation together that none of us could have imagined. I will continue to share information as it becomes available. In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy your summer.
Christine A. Sefcik, Ed.D.
June 18, 2020
Hello Grant Families,
I hope all of you are doing well and have been enjoying the first few weeks of summer. I am reaching out to provide you with an update on several school related matters, including planning efforts for the 2020/21 school year.
Before we talk about next year, let’s chat about our summer programs. We are almost at the mid-point of our virtual summer school programs. We are happy to report many students have successfully completed spring coursework and are recovering credits in the online credit recovery program. We are in week two of our virtual summer school program, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning taking place. Although the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) did release guidance permitting summer school attendance in groups of 10 or less, it was released as our first week of summer school kicked off. That was far too late to make the changes necessary to have made that happen, so thank you for your flexibility in supporting our virtual summer school plans.
We are excited at the prospect of having students return to campus in small groups this summer. The Illinois Department of Public Health recently approved the Illinois High School Association’s (IHSA) Phase 1 Return to Play Guidelines. The administration has been busy developing safety protocols in order to be able to effectively implement IHSA guidelines and bring our students in for strength and conditioning in small groups. We do look forward to affording students the opportunity to begin reestablishing a connection with school and their peers. We have worked cooperatively with Northern Lake County Conference member schools to develop common safety procedures and we are tentatively planning for a Phase 1 start on Monday, June 22. IHSA has already shared Phase 2 Return to Play Guidelines, pending a move to Stage 4 in Illinois, but we will await further guidance on that. Please know participation in any summer program that becomes available on campus is completely voluntary for students.
I’m also happy to report that communication will be coming out in the next few days regarding an individual, in-person graduation celebration. We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity for graduates to be able to walk across the stage and commemorate the moment with their family. Be on the lookout for details!
As for next year, we are still awaiting guidance from ISBE for the opening of the 2020/21 school year that was due on June 1. While we look forward to the guidance, we are not letting that slow down our planning efforts. Just as a reminder, we are primarily planning for the following three scenarios:
- An in-person return to school (with or without necessary safeguards)
- A hybrid approach with partial in-person and partial remote learning
- Continued remote learning
Lake County superintendents are working cooperatively to share ideas and planning efforts, as this has been a difficult process at best. I am also working very closely with our feeder district superintendents to develop similar service models to best serve the families that we share.
There are active subcommittees developing protocols in the following topic areas:
- Instructional Guidelines
- Student Attendance and Engagement
- Special Education & Related Services
- Social & Emotional Learning / SEL Supports
- Student Mentoring
- Structure of School Day
- Everything Operational:
- Physical Space
- Physical Needs
- Food Service
- Human Resources
We are hopeful to have a plan developed for next year no later than mid to late July. In the very same breath, I have to say that families need to be aware that plan could change up until the day we begin. While we can tentatively plan for what school would look like under Phase 4 of Illinois’ reopening plan, we have heard the possibility that guidelines may be different for school districts. No matter which scenario we find ourselves in, our priority is and will remain keeping staff and students safe. We are certainly hopeful we can do that in an in-person teaching and learning environment. However, we will continue to forge ahead with planning a quality instructional program no matter which option we ultimately proceed with.
On Monday, we released a survey to all of you to gather feedback and inform our decision making for 20/21. As of the writing of this update, there have been 407 responses. If you haven’t already, we would appreciate it if you complete the brief survey. Knowing your thoughts regarding the variety of options we are considering is extremely important.
Enjoy your next few weeks of summer and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions.
Christy Sefcik, Ed.D.
Dear Grant Community High School Families,
These last three months have been challenging on so many fronts. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of education this spring, threatened the health of many, and negatively impacted millions economically. Now we find ourselves challenged yet again by a crisis of a very different sort.
Another tragic death of an unarmed black man has people around the world grieving. It has taken quite a few days for our own families to make sense of our emotions, as we face and try to better understand long-standing injustices, the pain they cause, and how we can take peaceful action to make our country a better and more just place for all of our citizens.
At such a difficult time, we believe education is more important now than it ever has been before. As an institution, we seek to “Build a positive school culture that strives for excellence, values diversity, and celebrates success for all.” In order to accomplish that, we must continue listening to and learning from one another. We must continue teaching the young people of our community the importance of equity, inclusion, and what is right and just. They must be encouraged to speak up against what we know is wrong. Our students and the greater community deserve nothing less and, frankly, our students demand it. They are a beacon of hope for peace, equal justice for all, and a better tomorrow.
Given the confluence of these catastrophic events, it is understandable that our students may need some additional emotional support at this time. Even though school is not in session, we are still only a phone call or email away. Please reach out to us if you need anything that our District can provide. Additionally, here are links to a few resources from the National Association of School Psychologists that you and your family may find helpful during these difficult times:
- Supporting Vulnerable Students in Stressful Times: Tips for Parents
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- Understanding Race and Privilege
The Grant Community High School Administration
Dr. Christy Sefcik, Superintendent (email@example.com)
Beth Reich, Chief School Business Official (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jeremy Schmidt, Principal (email@example.com)
Ryan Geist, Assistant Principal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr. Nathan Miller, Assistant Principal (email@example.com)
Greg Urbaniak, Dir. of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tina Sonders, Director of Special Education (email@example.com)
Veronica Lukemeyer, Divisional (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Blair Schoell, Divisional (email@example.com)
Eric Taubery, Divisional (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tom Ross, Athletic Director (email@example.com
Junio de 2020
Estimadas familias de la Escuela Secundaria Grant Community:
Estos últimos tres meses han sido desafiantes en muchos aspectos. La pandemia de COVID-19 cambió el curso de la educación esta primavera, amenazó la salud de muchos e impactó negativamente a millones económicamente. Ahora nos encontramos nuevamente desafiados por una crisis de un tipo muy diferente.
Otra muerte trágica de un hombre negro desarmado tiene a gente de todo el mundo en duelo. En nuestras propias familias nos ha llevado varios días dar sentido a nuestras emociones, ya que enfrentamos y tratamos de comprender mejor injusticias de larga data, el dolor que causan y cómo podemos tomar medidas pacíficas para que nuestro país sea un lugar mejor y más justo para todos los ciudadanos.
En un momento tan difícil, creemos que la educación es ahora más importante que nunca. Como institución, buscamos "Construir una cultura escolar positiva que luche por la excelencia, valore la diversidad y celebre el éxito para todos". Para lograr esto, debemos continuar escuchando y aprendiendo unos de otros. Debemos continuar enseñando a los jóvenes de nuestra comunidad la importancia de la equidad, la inclusión y lo que es correcto y justo. Debemos alentarlos a hablar en contra de lo que sabemos que está mal. Nuestros estudiantes y la comunidad en general no merecen menos y, francamente, nuestros estudiantes lo exigen. Son un faro de esperanza para la paz, la justicia igual para todos y un mañana mejor.
Dada la confluencia de estos eventos catastróficos, es comprensible que nuestros estudiantes puedan necesitar algún apoyo emocional adicional en este momento. Aunque la escuela no está en sesión, seguimos a solo una llamada telefónica o un correo electrónico de distancia. Comuníquense con nosotros si necesitan algo que pueda proporcionar nuestro Distrito. Además, aquí hay enlaces a algunos recursos de la Asociación Nacional de Psicólogos Escolares que ustedes y sus familias pueden encontrar útiles durante estos tiempos difíciles:
- Apoyo a estudiantes vulnerables en tiempos estresantes: Consejos para los padres
- Hablar con los niños sobre la violencia: Consejos para padres y maestros
- Comprender la raza y el privilegio
La Administración de la Escuela Secundaria Grant Community
Dra. Christy Sefcik, Superintendenta (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Beth Reich, Directora de Negocios de la Escuela (email@example.com )
Jeremy Schmidt, Director (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Ryan Geist, Subdirector (email@example.com )
Dr. Nathan Miller, Subdirector (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Greg Urbaniak, Dir. de Currículo, Instrucción y Evaluación (email@example.com )
Tina Sonders, Directora de Educación Especial (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Veronica Lukemeyer, Encargada de División (email@example.com)
Blair Schoell, Encargado de División (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eric Taubery, Encargado de División (email@example.com)
Tom Ross, Director de Atletismo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dear Grant Community High School Families,
I hope this email finds your family well. As we wrap up the final days of the school year, I wanted to reach out to communicate a few things. First, we have appreciated your cooperation to finish the school year strong. This has no doubt been the most unusual of school years. It is safe to say that we have learned a great deal from this experience. We look forward to incorporating what we have learned into planning for any potential future eLearning. The luxury that we have now is time to plan, which we did not have for this remote learning period. We hope that you understand we made the best decisions possible, at the time they were made and with the guidance that was available. On May 15th, the Illinois State Board of Education released guidance on the closing of this school year. While guidance from ISBE is always appreciated, decisions were required to be made well in advance of the release of that information for our May 21st end date.
While we know nearly all students are striving to successfully complete coursework for this school year, we are building into our summer school program options to recover coursework not successfully completed, as well as provide booster or enrichment learning opportunities for interested students. We are working to reimagine and restructure programs daily, so expect more details about those soon.
As for next year, we all remain hopeful that we will be back together again in August. We will continue to monitor guidance from a variety of local, state, and federal authorities. We will also plan in earnest for a variety of instructional delivery options, so that we are well prepared for next school and able to adjust accordingly based on the recommendation of experts. Generally speaking, we are being asked to prepare for the following three options:
- An in-person return to school (with or without necessary safeguards)
- A hybrid approach with partial in-person and partial remote learning
- Continued remote learning
I will plan to provide you with an update on planning for next year on or about June 30th.
In the meantime, I wish everyone a successful end to this school year and a good beginning to summer. For our graduates, you will forever have a special place in our hearts. We hope that you enjoy the upcoming virtual graduation ceremony celebrating your efforts. We do still have an in-person ceremony scheduled for July 19th, but we will have to wait and see if that becomes possible. Congratulations to all of you for a job well done!
Christine A. Sefcik, Ed.D.
I don’t know how it could possibly be the middle of January already! I’m happy to report we’ve had a strong start to second semester, with many exciting things happening:
- We continue to make progress with our efforts to be a Future Ready School! We have plans to upgrade 10 more classrooms with 21st Century technology and furnishings this summer, for a total of 55 upgraded learning environments. We continue to seek feedback from students and staff on our 1:1 initiative, with improvements continuing to be made along the way.
- We are piloting a student privilege program for seniors, the RED Zone, effective this month. Students who meet certain grade, attendance, and behavior expectations will be rewarded with some flexibility in their schedule!
- Thanks to the wonderful work of a few certified staff members, students in our Learning Opportunity Program will gain valuable workplace experience beginning this week. Starbucks will be donating supplies for a weekly faculty coffee cart, run by our fabulous LOP students!
- We are moving forward with preparing for a potential e-learning day. With technology in the hands of students and teachers, we feel we are well positioned to extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom. Teachers are receiving e-learning professional development this month, with a practice e-learning session to follow in the classroom. More details to come on this.
- We are actively working on the development of curriculum for new courses next year:
- Business Incubator
- Introduction to Team Sports
- Introduction to Strength and Conditioning
- Introduction to Advanced Health
- Introduction to Lifestyle Fitness
- Mobile App Design
- Mythology II
- Project Lead the Way – Principles of Engineering
- At the beginning of next month, we will be kicking off the development of a Portrait of a Graduate. We look forward to bringing together students, parents, staff and community members to collectively identify the competencies GCHS graduates need to be successful in a changing economy, workplace, and society. By spring, we look forward to having a visual representation of our “Portrait.”
- We look forward to welcoming our new Bulldogs at Eighth Grade Enrollment Nights next week, which take place on January 22 and 22. Welcome to all of our incoming freshmen!
Enjoy the rest of January and stay warm!
As well roll into the winter months, I wanted to communicate some potential changes regarding the use of emergency days. The State of Illinois now provides schools with the flexibility to utilize e-learning days in lieu of emergency days (Public Act 101-0012). Up to a maximum of five (5) e-learning days may be used annually in place of emergency days. With faculty and students each having possession of a district provided computer, we feel we are well positioned to extend educational experiences beyond the walls of the classroom. To that end, the Board of Education will be considering approval of an E-learning Plan on December 19th. A draft of the E-learning Plan is attached, but here are a few highlights:
- An e-learning day may be utilized on severe weather days when it is possible for the decision to be made regarding closure by 8:00 P.M. the evening prior.
- If it is necessary to close school without ample warning, an e-learning day will not be used and the district will utilize the emergency days reserved at the end of the year.
- E-learning days will be limited in use. If consecutive emergency days are necessary, it is not likely that consecutive e-learning days will take place.
- It is advised that families and staff plan their annual calendar taking into account the potential use of all emergency days rather than plan for e-learning days to be utilized.
- Student learning activities will be valuable learning experiences, tied to the existing curriculum, and each learning activity is expected to be the length of a typical class period.
- The district will provide a practice e-learning opportunity this school year, on a regularly scheduled school day when school is in session, for students and staff to practice e-learning.
We will continue to communicate as we move forward with E-learning planning. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Grant Community High School is undertaking an effort this school year to develop a Portrait of a Graduate. Development of the Portrait will be an inclusive, local, and collaborative process that will identify and prioritize the competencies desired in all students by the time they graduate to enhance their chances of success now and in the future.
We are undertaking this work because we want to ensure our educational system is being responsive to student aspirations and needs. We also have a fundamental desire for all students to have an educational experience here at Grant that prepares them well for college, a career, and adult life.
The Portrait Design Team will seek to include parents, students, educators, business leaders, and community members. EdLeader21 and Battelle for Kids will be facilitating the work of the Portrait Design Team. Through a series of collaborative meetings, the Team will study how a changing economy, workplace skills and society impact our students. A set of competencies, or the knowledge, skills, experiences and attributes, we want students to attain will then be identified. Ultimately, we will define a visual and practical representation of the goals our school and community can word toward to incorporate and ensure 21st century learning experiences for all students.
After the process of developing the Portrait of a Graduate is complete, we will seek to update the district’s goals so that we have forward-thinking strategic goals that includes measurable objectives and action steps that will help ensure that every student is well prepared to be successful in college and/or the workforce and to be “life ready.”
I would like to extend a warm welcome to our students and families as we begin the 2019/20 school year. We couldn’t be more excited to have the start of the school year right around the corner!
There are so many things for our students, staff, school, and community to be proud of as we enter a new year. As a Future Ready School, we have made strides toward each of our Future Ready goals, including:Providing authentic and relevant learning experiences that meet the curricular needs of all learners.
- Guiding students to become more self-sufficient and responsible by developing 21st century skills focused on collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.
- Increasing student engagement, student achievement, and academic rigor through personalized learning, differentiation, and equal access to technology.
- Teaching students to be productive and ethical through digital citizenship and global awareness.
- Empowering students with a voice and ownership in their education.
- Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of education.
To that end, students are currently in the process of receiving a District provided Chromebook. Our focus isn’t on the technology, but rather providing the tools necessary to meet the needs of all learners. These devices also work towards providing anywhere, anytime learning opportunities for all students.
We renovated an additional twenty (20) classrooms this summer to provide 21st Century technology and furnishings that embrace student mobility and collaboration. We also completed renovations on the rooms that will be hosting two of our new courses, Tech Support Internship and Project Lead the Way – Introduction to Engineering. Lastly, we updated a number of our older restrooms.
Teachers have been hard at work this summer, planning improvements to curriculum, instruction, and assessments. You can expect to see an increased use of Schoology, providing valuable feedback on student performance.
Communication between home and school has always been important, but I believe it to be even more so as we continue on our Future Ready journey and seek out changes to improve the educational experience for our students. I encourage you to be in communication with your student’s teachers, members of the Student Services Team, and school administration, who are all here to see your student be successful. We look forward to a great school year!