By: Chris Walker, Principal at Muncie Central High School—
Muncie, IN—Friday March 13, 2020 started out as a normal day at Muncie Central High School. Normal until about 2:50 pm when I was on the public address system informing our students and staff that we would be conducting eLearning the following week and the week after Spring Break. As I outlined expectations for the next three weeks and gave instructions on items that needed to be taken home at dismissal, 3:05 pm would be the last time I would see our students for the remainder of the school year in our normal setting.
As the days unfolded and the situation worsened, the announcement that schools would remain closed through May 1st seemed expected. The roller coast of emotions continued and the speculation of whether we would return remained a small possibility. All the while, the teachers and staff at Muncie Central were hard at work providing instruction to our students in this temporary normal. However, on April 2nd the decision to finish school remotely was a reality. Our new normal.
The announcement that the school year would finish remotely was devastating. Not because there was disagreement on whether it should happen, but that any hope of finishing the school year in our old normal was gone. My heart hurts for our students and families that they will not get to experience so many events and milestones that come at the end of a normal school year. Spring sport athletes have lost the opportunity to compete and represent our school in the sports they love. Our choir and drama students have lost out on their spring concerts and performing for their families and friends. Marching band and color guard will not compete this summer after all those hours of rehearsal and preparation. Prom has been cancelled and graduation has been postponed. These are just a few of the things “taken” away from our students, families, and community. But that was our old normal.
In this new normal, we’ve seen so many unexpected positives reveal themselves. MCS serves over 40,000 meals each week to our students and families. Our teachers and staff are completely re-inventing the high school experience for our students. Remote learning has taken on a life of its own and our students are engaging in meaningful, student-centered learning opportunities. Teachers are connecting with students at all hours of the day to ensure they have the material they need, they understand the content, and they are successful. Zoom and Webex have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Just a taste of our new normal.
In the midst of our new normal some amazing collaboration has happened with the sole purpose of honoring our students and their accomplishments. Our seniors will receive yard signs to proudly display around our community. A senior tribute video is being planned where seniors can upload a video clip and pictures to highlight their experiences. The compassion and grace of our students, teachers, staff, and families are on display for all to see. In this regard, our normal is not so much new as it is having a new light shown upon it.
To our students, families, teachers, staff, and community I continue to be amazed at how you support the work we do. While the way we deliver this work has changed, the purpose and passion has only strengthened. We are resilient and we will be stronger when our next normal arrives.