Principal's message: Back to school 2021

September 2021
Dear Otselic Valley,

I want to thank our amazing staff, students, and families for stepping up to the plate this past year.  With the ups and downs of online learning, never knowing when we might have to close and go virtual, and worrying daily about whether you were doing enough – it wasn’t easy! -- you continued and persevered with modified plans for the year and quickly adapted to a new normal.  Our teachers did their best to provide quality instruction to prepare students for an unknown future.  

As we get ready to start a new school year, we are excited to welcome new students and staff and support them as they continue their educational journeys with us.  We remain steadfast in our continued commitment to academic excellence, innovative practices, school safety, and inclusive excellence.  We are proud of our achievements and grateful for our school community.

As we look ahead, it is a good time to take a moment or two to reflect on how far we have come and where we are headed.

This past year there were many unexpected twists and transitions.  We set our sights on our new and challenging core beliefs where we held high expectations for all, we cultivated creativity and innovation, and we partnered with students, staff, community, and families to help our students achieve success.  We plan to continue this work by looking at data during Professional Learning Community times daily with teams of teachers throughout the building.  Our goal is to continue to analyze grade level reading and improve our reading scores of all of our students.  We will do this through intervention blocks of time for students in grades K-8th, the use of authentic reading materials, and continued professional development for our staff in literacy PK-12.  We have added math interventions to our schedules this year and have also added WIN time (What I Need) for 7th and 8th grades.  This will be structured time for our middle school students to connect with staff members in areas they need more assistance in, and it will allow middle school teachers to work with all 7th and 8th graders on test taking skills, note taking strategies, organization, and the many other skills they need to be successful in high school and beyond.  

Prior to and throughout this pandemic, administrators and teachers everywhere recognized the important contributions parents make toward a child’s success in school.  There is no question about it – success at school begins at home – and that has a whole new meaning now!  In more ways than one, parents are the single most important variable in a child’s schooling.  Parents model both a silent and spoken language in front of their children every day.  Student success in a school setting starts with your guidance at home.  The close partnership between home and school is one of the exceptional strengths here at Otselic Valley Central Schools.  You as the parent or guardian play a crucial role in your child’s life by reinforcing academic and behavioral expectations.  Make sure to take a moment and review our Student Handbook with your child and discuss the rules and expectations outlined.  Pay close attention to the Academic Eligibility section, which replaces our former S M P program.  As always, our staff go above and beyond to help ensure your child’s success, but students need to do their part as well.  Feel free to reach out with any questions.
Attendance is also a key to your child’s success.  Learning builds day by day.  A healthy child who misses a day of school misses learning for that time.  Research shows that attendance is one of the most important factors in school success.  Being late for school hurts a child’s learning too.  A student who is 10 minutes late every day will miss 30 hours of instruction during the school year.  Children can copy notes or make up an assignment, but they can never get back what is most important; the discussions, the questions, the explanations by the teacher, and the thinking that makes the learning come alive.  Your child’s success in school depends on having a solid foundation, and that can be gained through regular school attendance. 
Please have your children to school on time.  School begins at 7:50 and ends at 2:25. Students who enter school after 7:50 AM will be marked tardy.  We will continue to allow parents to pick-up and drop off their children.  We ask that you do not drop your children off before 7:30 as there is no supervision until 7:30.  We will begin serving breakfast at 7:30 and for those students not interested in breakfast, we will have supervision in the M P R and gymnasium until 7:40 when teachers will open their doors.  Parent pick-up will continue to be in the main vestibule.  Please line up outside the main doors for pick-up and your child will be sent to you after checking in with our staff.

Due to the continuing pandemic, we will still limit visitors inside the building.  All visitors will need to be pre-approved and will need to be masked at all times.  

Virtual learning may happen from time to time again this year, and we will monitor the COVID pandemic closely as we did last year.  Be sure to check in with your child often and communicate with their teachers to ensure their success.  However, we are confident about the changes we have made to make sure your children are safe here at school.  That includes everyone wearing masks again as we start the new school year.  Masks are non-negotiable.  Although we know many staff and older students may be vaccinated, due to the unknowns of the Delta variant, we can’t take any chances.  Your child’s safety is one of our main concerns.

Thank you again for all of your continued support through these unprecedented times.  Last year and during our summer programs, our students continued to amaze me everyday. Their hard work and dedication will pay off in their future years here at OV, thanks to partnerships between home and our teachers and staff.

Remember, we are all in this together and we are O V strong!  We are looking forward to seeing everyone and starting our new school year!  
Shelly Richards

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