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New Albany High School 

New Albany-Plain Local Schools appreciates this opportunity to provide a few district highlights with our Central Ohio community as part of the special community feature in the Columbus Jewish News. Our district statement of purpose is to create a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student. Never has this been a greater focus and challenge than in the past year.

During the last 15 months, everyone, including schools, was challenged in unprecedented ways by the pandemic. Although we all encountered twists, turns and sudden drops during the COVID-19 roller coaster ride, we learned about ourselves, we adjusted and adapted, and we discovered opportunities on how to better meet the needs of students, all while adhering to the health and safety protocols required to keep our students, our staff and our community safe. We learned we are stronger together as we attended school every day, in a hybrid model, all-in, or entirely at home virtually.

The class of 2021 included 13 finalists for the National Merit Scholarship and seven Commended Scholars who performed particularly well in standardized tests. There were also six young men and two young women committed to serve our country in the armed services and 37 students committing to take their game to the next level in collegiate athletics. Their character, scholastic success, personalities and footprints have adorned our campus for years.

Their determination and success on the fields, courses, courts and in the water resulted in state championships for girls golf, girls’ swimming, boys’ baseball and boys’ tennis doubles. Our schools also achieved state runner-up in boys’ soccer, boys’ tennis and girls’ lacrosse and district or regional championships for other student athletes. Additionally, our students discovered that the show can and will go on for our young performing artists during theater productions and in band, choir and orchestra, or in numerous clubs, groups, organizations and competitions too.

In addition to honoring and celebrating our graduates, we must also recognize the inspiration and leadership of our teachers, administrators and staff, the wisdom and support of their family and friends and the investment of our entire community in helping them become the adults they are today.

Looking ahead, we are excited the 2021-22 school year, which will begin on Aug. 19, as we welcome more than 5,000 pre-K through 12th grade students to our learning campus in-person for a “normal” school year. Summer intervention programs to close learning gaps for identified students will be combined with deliberate planning efforts to welcome 1,274 virtual students back-to-school in-person in August. This will all happen while partnering with local and state health and governmental officials to ensure that our school campus remains safe for all students, staff and visitors.

Our efforts to build an inclusive campus culture must continue to allow every student to feel safe, supported and connected at school, at home and in our community. As a community, we engage in open dialogue to determine how we can continuously improve for the betterment of everyone, especially our children.

I encourage everyone to choose kindness and express gratitude and joy for yourself and others as we embrace lessons learned during the pandemic to make us all better. This pandemic has required all of us to accept that we are not in control of the events that will occur. However, we can control how we choose to respond in order to directly influence the outcomes produced.

On behalf of everyone in the New Albany-Plain Local Schools, please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for allowing us to serve the students and families of New Albany, a remarkable community. Go Eagles.

Michael L. Sawyers is the superintendent of the New Albany-Plain Local Schools.