Update from School Board Student Representative Will Guisbond

Dear JD Students,

In the few weeks it’s been since my first report, things have accelerated at a rate that no one could have predicted. As I’m sure you have heard by now, Governor Cuomo has made the decision to keep school buildings closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

As I result, I come to you, our JD community, with a heavy heart. I’m thinking of my fellow seniors who won’t be able to live out these last weeks like we have been waiting for our entire lives. I’m thinking of all students, teachers, and staff who have been forced to adapt to a new learning environment in the blink of an eye. I’m thinking of spring student athletes. I’m thinking of the cast of the drama show. I’m thinking of all of our amazing authors and artists. And, most importantly, I’m thinking and hurting for everyone whose lives have been touched by this terrible virus.

Now, instead of looking to the end of this school year, we must adapt and pivot our focus elsewhere. While we may not be able to experience the traditional end-of-the-year events and celebrations in a conventional way, our staff is hard at work trying to get creative on how to make the remainder of this year the best it can be. I’m confident in them and the integrity of our student body to make the best with what we have.

However, for many, quite understandably, that simply is never going to live up to our expectations of how we had thought this year would pan out when we started in September. For me, this feeling has lately turned into a parallax-type effect as the days seem to blend into one another. When talking with my dad, he simply described this situation as feeling like “one, long, never ending weekend that really isn’t a weekend.” I think that about sums it up.

As I’m sure many of you have struggled with similar sentiments, in effort to help quell them, I’d like to revisit a comment I made in my first update: that “we must remember one thing: our humanity.”

Even if this does feel like one long weekend, that doesn’t mean that we have to give up on the things that make us human, and more importantly, the things that make us JD. Within our own community, people are hosting food drives (like the one being run by NHS on 5/15), hosting drive-by’s for the Class of 2020 (thank you JD faculty!), thanking essential workers, and being the best humans we can be right now. This, more than any news article or message from our community leaders, gives me hope. This shows me that we have not lost our way as students, teachers, staff, athletes, musicians, artists, community-members, and parents. Rather, we have accepted our current situation, adapted, and pressed forward.

As a result, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement as we come into the homestretch of an otherwise fantastic school year:

To my fellow seniors:

We are in this together, and while we may not be having a traditional end to our high school careers, it will certainly be a memorable one. I’m so proud to be graduating (virtually or otherwise) alongside you all — you are leaders and changers, and I can’t wait to see how you all will change the world.

If you can think of other ways to celebrate creatively, reach out to me or our student government. We will get the send-off we deserve!

To all JD students:

In the wise voice of Mr. Gasparini, “finish strong”, but also take time to ensure your own mental health and personal stability right now. Our teachers and staff are here to support you, so lean on them if you have to. Reach out to your friends, make a routine, and find something to look forward to (even if it’s just watching an episode of Outer Banks at the end of the day).

To our teachers, administrators, faculty, and staff:

I don’t even know where to begin. Your bravery, dexterity, perseverance, and support has certainly not gone unnoticed. You are true JD heroes for the lesson plans you’ve created, the connections you’ve made with students, the late nights you’ve put in, the emails you’ve sent, the phone-calls you’ve made, the Zoom meetings you’ve hosted, and so much more. Heck, you even stood out to congratulate the Class of 2020 on the one Saturday in May when it actually snowed in Syracuse. You make us proud every day.

I’m proud to be a JD Red-Ram and even more proud of the work we’ve done together. However, I would be remiss of the progress we made if I didn’t recognize the great challenge that still faces us. Finishing out this school year will not be easy, and nothing we’ve done or will do is going to be perfect — in fact, as a function of these unprecedented times, it’s probably going to be pretty far from perfect.

But, that’s okay. Together, and only together, by mustering our humanity, we will overcome it. Just as we have been, we will work together while staying apart, we will think creatively, we will adapt, and we will be calculated, empathetic, and brave.

More than anything, we will be, and are, JD.

Will Guisbond is the Student Representative to the Jamesville-Dewitt Board of Education. He can be reached at any time by email: 20wguisbond@jd.cnyric.org.

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