If you are like me, you might be becoming a bit weary of words and phrases such as unprecedented, the new normal, and contactless. As the year 2020 comes to a close in the next couple of weeks, it has been refreshing to observe the optimism that a new year can bring. January 1 is technically just another date on the calendar, but this year it seems to represent more. It seems to represent hope and brighter futures. A new year brings new beginnings and new ideas that are full of possibilities.

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to stop by the Wolcyn Tree Farm in Cambridge to pick out a tree. It was such a refreshing experience to see families outdoors, sharing laughs, tilting heads and scrutinizing over the decision to select just the right tree for their respective homes. Seasonal traditions also bring joy and optimism. Although they may look slightly different than past years, the value is in the experience and the love that is shared in doing so.

Traditions are so important to our children. Right now, they’re looking to the adults in their lives for a sense of normalcy and stability. We, in turn, look to them for hope.

Reflecting on 2020, we see enormous resiliency, creativity and dedication from the teachers and staff in the Cambridge-Isanti School District. We also see the same thing from our students and families. Everyone has had to adapt. But you know what? We learned some things in 2020 that we would never have learned otherwise.

A year ago, if we’d asked you if second-grade students could jump on a video call with their teachers, you might have said probably not. But, out of necessity, students have learned how to do video calls and Google Meets. If we’d ask if you thought remote learning would actually lead to an increase in reading, you might have said, hmm, unlikely. But kids are reading more. Teachers are reporting that their students are going deeper into the subjects they’re most interested in. They’re taking an increased ownership of their learning. Coming out of this pandemic in 2021, our children will carry forward experiences and learnings such as resiliency, adaptability, collaboration, and solution seeking skills unlike any previous generation.

January 1 will indeed mark the closure of a challenging year and the beginning of a new one. It will bring with it hope for brighter days and an eventual closure to this pandemic chapter of our lives. But we will also take some of these important new skills into our future that will benefit us in ways yet to be defined. The students and staff of our school district inspire us daily. We’re engaged in a working partnership with families and the communities we serve, and what we’ve accomplished together during 2020 opens new doors for the future ahead.

As we participate in seasonal traditions this time of the year, let us not forget one of the most important traditions - to be thankful. I am so thankful for Bluejacket students, families, and staff members. I am also thankful for some of the lessons that 2020 has taught us. Together, we will enter the new year with great optimism and enthusiasm and I am certain that 2021 is going to be an amazing year!

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