COVID-19 Updates

covid-19 update

Notre Dame, along with the Diocese of Knoxville, continues to monitor and plan for the the 2020-2021 school year. Resources for our various programs can be found on the left hand column and a communication archive is below. 
 
Greetings from school! Hoping your summer is off to a more relaxing start than what you experienced during our final quarter.
 
A couple of quick notes - 
 
Attached below is a very brief, very direct SCHOOL PLANNING SURVEY you are invited to complete. Since the Bishop has given us a start date, we have been researching, listening, re-defining, all with the goal of unearthing every strategic move we might need to make so that we can achieve what everyone dreams for -  getting all our students back on campus every day - as safely as possible! And nothing else really matters if they're not.
 
I'm for a huge student body - what school isn't!? It makes us better in so many ways. But we can all acknowledge positives of the family feel. Our current size allows us to consider some options that other schools can't. And getting everyone back together - safely and on campus - is one of those options. When you factor in a spacious facility with some flexible spaces, it might not be the same but it's going to be close. 
 
We've been reading whatever we can get our hands on, talking to medical personnel in the field, sizing up the parts we can manage and those we can't. Teachers have been gracious when asked to take on extra teaching duties and/or give up favorite classrooms. Quite simply, they'd rather teach more than put a strain on our spaces or more stress on our families. If there's a way to get them back on campus, they're all in!   
 
There's more to do ... but every day is getting us closer. I'm not ready to promise what we can't deliver - we've had enough disappointment in 2020. But we'll let you know as soon as we can. Thank you for your patience. 
 
As the year wraps up, we have two retirees whom we'd like to recognize --- Mrs. Kathy Fisher and Mr. Pat Landry. Their combined 42 years of service to Notre Dame families will not be forgotten or ever be unappreciated. We wish them the very best!
 
How about some good news - I want to take a moment to introduce three new staff members who will be joining us. 
 
>> Deb Weiss will join our Math Department. A veteran public school educator, she brings multiple degrees and a wealth of classroom experience in a variety of settings.
 
>> Jane Champlin joins our English Department. She too brings multiple degrees as well as college level experience having taught their freshmen so she's able to offer the vantage point of what higher education will be expecting from our students.
 
>> And lastly, Dr. Anne Aguirre joins our Guidance team as Director of College Counseling. She too brings many years of having worked at the next level, some 20+ years in college admissions offices including those at Belmont, Webster and Vanderbilt. We're excited to have them all.
 
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When Nancy and I are sitting out back on our deck, you can imagine that the conversation often turns to Notre Dame. Don't get me wrong, our kids - and their kids - always come first, and not necessarily in that order. But school is what we both do. We're alums and so are our parents. It's hard to get away from it.
 
Sometimes we chat about the insanity of the day - she's always got a good story from the front office. I can't always share the tales from mine, but we're never short on school talk. We're two of the world's worst at "leaving work at work."
 
We rehash a lot but more often are looking to the future, kicking around ideas for what might us make us better. Some make it to reality; some die out there on the deck.
 
There's been no shortage of planning talk lately as we banter about "do you think this or that will work?" I ask her to play devil's advocate - a role she's happy to oblige - sometimes when I don't even ask. 
 
For weeks our staff has been hammering out the very best way to accomplish our many school goals - educating the whole person, growing our faith, serving a community in need, preparing for college and more. 
 
It's required we add other goals - let's do all of that, let's do it amidst this virus and let's make it as safe as we can.
 
Doable but different. 
 
The 'different' will make us safe. The 'doable' makes it the way it should be .... better when we're here, better when we're together, better when we have each other. 
 
Asking continued prayers as we move forward,
 
George Valadie
NDHS
 
Greetings to our Notre Dame Families - 

 

I want to begin by thanking everyone who was able to complete the recent survey regarding a proposed calendar change being discussed at the Diocesan level. Attached is a letter from Bishop Stika as well as the details of the calendar we will be using for the coming school year. Just so you know, almost 200 of our families replied with results being about 50-50. Needless to say, one thing we've learned is that we often cannot be certain of the right thing to do. So we do the best we can. (You can soon find the planning document he references on our school website.) 

 

This new calendar calls for school to begin three days earlier than originally planned; Fall Break as we have known it in past years has been eliminated and the first semester of on-campus learning will conclude earlier than normal ... much that is new to get used to - at your home and ours. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask, we'll do the best we can. 

 

A huge thank you to all who were able to drop off textbooks and borrowed laptops last week. If you were not able to get by, of course we still need to get those back ... and we might have some of your locker stuff too bagged up in the Main Office. Our summer office hours are each Monday thru Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - noon. Thank you so much!

 

If you're in the Class of 2021 and were not able to get by to meet with the Balfour class ring representative, he has left information packets in the Main Office. You can also check out Balfour.com 

 

It has come to our attention that quite a few of our students who had signed up for the June version of ACT received notice on Friday that Notre Dame High School was no longer available as a test site. I'd like to comment further.

     First, you have our apologies for the confusion and frustration ... it matches ours.

     For obvious reasons, we had to make a decision about being a test site about a month ago. It was during that window that we were still in a "shelter-in-place" scenario and our Diocese had closed our school. We notified ACT at that time (along with almost 100 other schools in Tennessee) that we would be unable to host the test.

     Thankfully, I can only recall one other time in our history when we had to make such a decision. ACT then eliminates us as a possible site and notifies all who are impacted. Apparently though, that did not happen until this past Friday. 

     Again, we apologize for the frustration and stress that these cancellations are causing.

     Just so you know, we have notified ACT and they have confirmed that we will be serving as a test site for the JULY 18th test.

     We're all looking forward to getting back to what we know.

      

As we always do, we will again be having some Summer Reading for our students. Please check out the list below for those details.

 

We regret to inform everyone but as many have expected, our summer camp schedule has been cancelled for the month of June. This is always a great opportunity for the younger students to learn new skills, get out of the house and meet new friends. We're open to the idea of possibly re-scheduling in July but it's too early to tell. We just hate this!  

 

The NDHS Irish Charms Dance team is having virtual tryouts this year from June 8th - 12th. For more information, email Mrs Gravitt at gravittc@myndhs.com

 

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Back in March, just before all the teachers headed out of the building for the last time, I can recall reading them a quote I had read. Three months later I can recall the gist but maybe not the exact words. 

 

A school superintendent from somewhere said something like, "the world will never know if we over-react. But it will be quite obvious if we under-react."  

 

I've thought of that often through these days we just completed and as we plan for the ones that lie ahead. Trying to discern what is right, what is best, what makes good sense, what is overkill. Earlier today, though I hated to do it, I announced that we would be cancelling our traditional July school-hosted Alumni Weekend activities. In this letter, we cancelled Youth Camps for the month of June. 

 

The calendar decision is much the same. Good people trying to figure out the best path that keeps kids and families safe. Over-react? Under-react? I don't have a clue. That's why I pray a lot. Thank you for doing the same.

 

Have a safe and restful summer!

George Valadie

NDHS  



2020-2021 Summer Reading

9th Grade

All Levels: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

10th Grade

CP/ACP: Anthem by Ayn Rand

Honors: Mythology by Edith Hamilton

 

11th Grade

CP: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Honors: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

AP: Outliers: The Story of Success by John Malcolm Gladwell

 

12th Grade

English 4: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Dual Enrollment: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

AP English 4: Pachinko by Min Jim Lee

Greetings from school!
 
I want to begin by congratulating our graduates in the Class of 2020 as well as their moms and dads! After a much-too-lengthy delay, this past weekend we were finally able to host both their Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement in our stadium. The outside celebrations, God's willingness to spare us the rain and the yeoman efforts of a tremendous team willing to do anything - they all combined to make a wonderful weekend possible. 
 
Not to mention how rewarding it was to be able to brag on this class who received 200+ scholarship offers totaling millions of dollars. Congratulations to them all!
 
Looking ahead, we continue to make preparations for how all our students can return to campus everyday - provided circumstances allow it. We're planning for other contingencies too but getting everyone back safely is our primary goal. 
 
With that being the idea, I also wanted to inform everyone about how we are planning to conduct our first few opening days. Since some procedures will be different with new expectations for all, we believe it best if we have each grade on campus one day at a time for a mix of meeting their teachers and encountering the changes. Thus, it is our plan to utilize the following schedule (though it is 2020 and most anything can happen.)
    Mon, Aug. 3rd - Freshmen only, all day (8:10 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.)
    Tue, Aug. 4th - Sophomores only, all day (8:10 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.)
    Wed, Aug. 5th - Juniors only, all day (8:10 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.; we'll begin our normal Wednesday dismissal schedule the following week.)
    Thu, Aug. 6th - Seniors only, all day (8:10 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.)
    Fri, Aug. 7th - All students report all day (8:10 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.)
 
The details will be coming as we continue to re-shape and monitor the agencies, the experts and their responses to all that's happening - the CDC, our State and County Health Departments, the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as meeting with a variety of local doctors who have been dealing with this on a daily basis. Thank you for your patience!
 
*****
I doubt it would surprise anyone to hear that most everyone I encounter - vendors, our UPS guy, fellow educators, the lady at the Sonic, my mother - they're all asking what we're going to do. 
 
It's easy to recite our hopes since I dream about them a lot - literally. And 2:30 a.m. seems to have become my new favorite time for researching the internet - I'm up then so why not? The dogs look at me with one eye open like I'm crazy; Nancy was convinced long ago.
 
Last week I sat in on the County's open ZOOM meeting with the community. There were 600 of us taking it in. "We're thinking about this; we might do that; not quite sure about the other." There's not a single bit of criticism intended there. They're honest about their questions; plans are taking shape for sure, just not quite ready to pull the trigger. I get it, I really do. 
 
Two of our daughters were in our house this past weekend for the first time since early March. That's way too many days to have passed since the last time I got to push the grandkids "to the moon" on the swings or play Alien Tag which I always seem to lose. It was a great day!
 
My girls are pretty normal - sounding like most every mom and dad I've encountered - praying their kids get to go back to school - wanting everyone to be safe - worried they may be called on again to help the teacher teach their kids. 
 
I'm not sure why I believe this - 2020's given me no reason to be confident about anything thus far - but I do believe it's all gonna be alright. We will do the best we can and - if 144 years of our history prove anything -  our moms and dads will do the best they can. Together we'll make it work! 
 
I'm looking forward to blowing out that candle in the chapel when we're all back together again! 
 
Enjoy a wonderful 4th of July! 
 
George Valadie
NDHS