A few days ago, I shared with you the news that due to health guidelines from state and local health authorities, O’Dowd, along with other Bay Area schools, will be continuing with remote learning for the remainder of the school year. I know how disappointing this is to our community of students, faculty, and families, especially as we approach year-end traditions that typically fill our campus with so much joy, laughter, and pride. The loss of these many important moments and memories during this last month of school cannot be easily replaced.
But in the Dragon tradition, we are persevering, with students, teachers, and families reaching out and being of service to one another, and staying connected and engaged. Despite the enormous challenges, we persevere.
As a community, we are practicing gratitude. Gratitude for those working in essential service professions, especially our healthcare workers and first responders. Gratitude for the opportunity to continue our learning online and for being a part of the resilient and strong Dragon community for life. And we are praying. We pray for those who have lost their lives or their livelihoods, for those in our community and around the world who are suffering from disease, fear, and uncertainty.
Our charism also calls us to joy. We find ways to see the light and celebrate. One way we find joy is through being of service to one another. One hopeful example is O’Dowd’s Bay Area Student Activist Club, whose members are working with students in other schools to procure masks for healthcare workers. This is just one joyful example of our unrelenting Dragon spirit in action.
Lifting Our Spirits Upon our return April 20 -24, student leadership groups will host Lift Your Spirits Week, with simple, daily, positive activities to keep spirits up and strengthen connection. All of the activities are optional. The intention is to reduce stress, raise joy, and create some community time for students. This will not conflict with class times. Different student leadership groups will be hosting daily activities:
-Monday- ASB and Student Council host -Tuesday- Solidarity In Action host -Wednesday- Eco Leaders host -Thursday- CMT host -Friday- ASB and Student Council host
Additionally, students will be leading a student philanthropy initiative as part of the week’s activities, providing peers with opportunities to give back to support their fellow students whose families have experienced economic hardship during this time.
Students, It is our hope that you will take the opportunity in the next several weeks to connect with classmates and continue your efforts to celebrate the good amid this chaos. In such times as these, our character is revealed.
Honoring the Class of 2020 Seniors, we especially empathize with you for this tremendous disruption to the traditional year-end activities designed to honor and celebrate your achievements. We are committed to facilitating dialogue and engagement with and for you all to create positive memories for your class.
These circumstances are the opposite of what we’d hope for you. Amid the uncertainty, we seek your voices and input to deliver new traditions to mark and honor your senior year at O’Dowd. You are important to us! And, your care for self and one another in the coming weeks is critical. When this crisis is over, you will want memories of leaning in with everything you’ve got. Let’s discover grace in the maelstrom and transform this time into something beautiful.
We have moved some senior milestones to July/ August, when we hope shelter-in-place and social-distancing measures may be relaxed. While our plans are subject to change depending on directives from public health officials, we are planning for the following:
July 24, Senior Ball 6:00pm – 10:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
August 1, Baccalaureate Mass and Reception, 5:00pm – 8:00pm, Bishop O’Dowd High School
August 2, Commencement Ceremony, 10:00am – 12:00pm Paramount Theater
May 19, End of Year Student-Athlete Celebration With athletics canceled per league, section, and CIF through the end of the school year, we want to celebrate our final signing ceremony virtually with families. We are determining the best way to share this experience with the community.
And That’s Not All – Seniors Leading We know there are many other traditions at O’Dowd around yearbook signing, graduation practice, Senior Awards, Grad Night (which is not available at this point due to closure of major amusement parks), and other senior events. Seniors, we will be reaching out to you soon to hear your voices and gather your ideas for new, alternative events. We are already so impressed with the creativity and energy from those who have reached out with ideas. The Class of 2020’s resilience and tenacity will be a guidepost for generations of Dragons to come!
Looking Forward AP Exams and Final Exams For final exams this semester, teachers are looking at how to modify assessments to ensure accountability with greater flexibility with time for preparation and support for reduced stress and student success. AP Exam dates and times have been rescheduled. Students will take their exams at home and online. Students who are taking AP Exams can learn more at the College Board site and reach out to Director of Counseling Fran Warmerdam with any questions.
Class of 2024 Families who have students in our incoming Class of 2024 were sent an email last week from our Admissions team with details regarding our virtual Navigating O’Dowd event and new arrangements for placement testing. You can see details on our Class of 2024 page.
O’Dowd Summer Academy We hope to continue our Summer Academy with some courses online. We will be communicating further about any decisions in early May as we see how the situation evolves. We encourage families to keep posted for updates on our Summer Academy page.
Continued Support for Students As the weeks progress, we know that students may be experiencing anxiety and stress. We encourage students and families to keep lines of communication open with their counselors. And we encourage you to refer back to the Student Support Guide to get information about the range of supports in place for students, including social-emotional support.
Our Easter Wish As we pray for a brighter future, we remember those in our community who have been directly affected by COVID-19. If you would like to support our impacted students, we invite you to donate to our Student Emergency Fund. We are so grateful to all who have given to support our families and community during this time.
Finding God in all Things calls us to find our best selves as we persist through this unique Lenten journey, Holy Week, and Easter this Sunday with positive clarity and hope for our doubtless beautiful future together – one filled with the resilience and shared bonds that emerge through facing and overcoming difficult challenges as a community.
J.D. Childs, President Chris Smart, Ed.D., Principal