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Sat, July 31

Column: Grand Canyon School prepares for graduation as students return to class

Dr. Shonny Bria, Grand Canyon School Superintendent. (Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon School)

Dr. Shonny Bria, Grand Canyon School Superintendent. (Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon School)

In an effort to keep our community up to date with the latest changes at the school, I have been working to update this page at least monthly, after every regular School Board meeting or anytime something important happens. The last School Board meeting was April 21, 2021.

We welcomed students back to school on March 22, and began 4-day a week in-person instruction for elementary students on April 19. We continue to monitor the COVID situation in the community, and will make further determinations about four-day schedules for middle and high school over the next few weeks, though with only just over a month left in the school calendar this year, I don’t know how many more changes we want to make.

The feedback I have received so far is that our students, parents and staff are happy to be back in the classroom. This was expressed clearly by one of our high school students who presented to the School Board at their April 14 Special Board meeting.

We are in the planning stages for graduation, paying particular attention to the wishes and desires of our graduating seniors. We are working on another graduation parade like we did last year. We need to coordinate with the National Park on this, but things are looking good so far.

We are hoping to move back to the park pavilion for graduation, but will fall back to the school soccer field if the pavilion is not available for COVID reasons.

As was done last year, the town of Tusayan is again partnering with us to create banners for each of our graduating seniors and fly them on light poles down Highway 64 in Tusayan in celebration of their accomplishment. I want to express my appreciation to the town for a great partnership.

The state required us to perform annual summative testing this year. The goal this year is to get a baseline for where our students are at. This will help us to identify where our students are academically, and enable us to identify and assist students who may be in need of just a bit of additional assistance. The Arizona Department of Educations tells us test results won’t impact funding.

We are planning an extended summer academy this June to provide that added academic support. It won’t all be schoolwork though, it will be summer after all, and we are planning on incorporating a good measure of fun activities.

As you can see from these latest developments, we are clearly moving forward in getting back to something approaching normal.

We are in the planning phases for next school year, and hope to open in something which looks much more like a return to normal. Just a few more weeks in this school year, hang in there!

I want to finish this post with a heart felt thank you to our community and, in particular, our teachers. We have faced multiple challenges this year, and I am impressed by the level of support the community is providing to the school. I especially want to thank our teachers. They have had to be creative, adaptable, persistent and above all, resilient in their efforts this year. I believe all of them have gone well beyond the call of duty in the service of your children, and I ask that you join me in expressing praise for their heroic efforts.

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