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Kirksville R-III School District

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A Message from the Superintendent:

            To use a phrase made famous by the English poet Robert Burns; “The best laid plans of mice and men can still go wrong,” My intention to provide more frequent messages here did not happen—but I have a convenient and real excuse—the COVID pandemic. As we are now in the last month of this school year, I want to start again with these messages.

            What a last 13 months this has been! Two school years were short-circuited by the pandemic. Frustration, anger, confusion, fear, and uncertainty are feelings most within our community have experienced. I am genuinely amazed, however, that many people have remained resilient, optimistic, hopeful, and even grateful through it all.

            Resilience and gratitude are what I want us to focus on as we come out of the dark days of the pandemic. To me resilience is that quality of character that brings great strength to people who are stretched to what seem to be the very limits of their desire to continue. We were thrown into the abyss of a once-in-a-century heart rending upheaval. An upheaval that pitted some people against each other for reasons that none had a hand in creating. Families were torn, friendships were strained, and trust at many levels was erased because common sense and science were even at odds with each other. In the race to make sound decisions, no one could offer guidance that was couched in the comfort that experience brings.

            But now, at least, we have the experience with something no one thought to plan for. We have been stretched to the point where some have determined to give in, to set aside hope, to remain angry; cast blame; and seek to destroy the reputations of others. Consequently, I hope we will use the shared hard experiences of the last 18 months as a catalyst for treating one another again with grace, acceptance, and understanding. I have poignant memories of the unity and renewed pride felt in this country as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center. We resolved to be better together. I hope we make a similar resolution now.

            Trials are often the best school master. This pandemic has certainly taken us all to school. But what have we learned as a result? Each of us must determine what will be our “COVID keeps” and “COVID cast-offs.” What DNA-deep truths will become ours personally and collectively? It is THIS process that I am most grateful for. The afflictions caused by the pandemic and human reactions to it, forced reflection about many personal choices. It is in reflection that we learn how to be different.

            The harshness of the pandemic has shown us that we can be innovative; flexible; tolerant; trustworthy; helpful; loyal, friendly; courteous; kind; and cheerful. At the very least it has taught that we can do hard things. The pandemic will soon be part of the ash heap of history. What to build out of those ashes is our challenge. That challenge begins now.