Dr. Ryan’s Message for the New Year

Our fearless leader here to inspire us.

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My name is Dr. Mark Ryan, and I am the proud Superintendent here at the North Valley Military Institute College Preparatory Academy. It is with mixed emotions that I welcome you all to the 2020-2021 academic year. This is normally a time of excitement and anticipation as staff prepares to welcome students back on campus, students look forward to seeing their friends again and beginning a new grade level with all its academic challenges, and families get to breathe a sigh of relief that summer vacation is over and the kids are out of the house for 8-10 hours a day. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that for all of us. Instead of returning to physical classrooms, we will return to virtual instruction, much like what we did beginning March 16. I know full well that students, staff, and parents are all disappointed in this reality, but it is what our health experts tell us is in the best interests of students, staff, and families. I have no way of knowing when we will be able to return to face-to-face classes, but I can assure you of several things about that return:

1)      I will strictly follow the advice of the Los Angeles County Department of Health regarding when it is safe to bring cadets back on campus.

2)      I will coordinate our plan for safe return with the Los Angeles County Department of Health to ensure it complies with best practices for the safety and well being of everyone at NVMI.

3)      We will consult with all families, cadets, and staff as we are given an indication that a return to campus is probable.

4)      When that happens, it is important you all know that I believe such a return is likely to not be full time and likely not to include 100% of the student body. In order to social distance when we can open the campus, we will have to limit classrooms to no more than about 8-10 students each – and that likely will be true at least until June of 2021. In other words, even if we are permitted to bring cadets back to campus for instruction, about ¾ of students will still have to be participating in instruction virtually on any given day. We will try to rotate who comes to campus which days, but it is unlikely many students will be here all day every day, at least until at least these five things are all true:

  1.       a vaccine is widely available
  2.     therapeutics are available to effectively treat the virus
  3.       testing is available for all students, staff, and visitors with a quick result
  4.     contact tracing is viable and practical for all who would come on campus
  5.       LAUSD has a solid plan to ensure the cleaning and disinfecting of all student and staff spaces on the schedule recommended by health professionals

In the meantime, we are set to begin our fall semester. Orientation happens August 19-22 and virtual classes begin Monday August 31. I want to take the opportunity during this message to address some things about each of NVMI’s four pillars.

I begin with the most important –

ACADEMICS:

We will adhere to our traditional “A” bell schedule Mondays through Thursdays, and our usual Friday “B” schedule. The one exception is that period 1 will begin at 8:15 Mondays through Thursdays and 8:10 on Fridays.

Teachers are hard at work planning virtual lessons using their google classroom and google suite of tools, coupled with the Zoom conferencing platform. You should receive invitations to your google classes before August 31. You will receive your academic schedules via email on August 18, and it is imperative that you check over your schedule and if you have any questions or concerns, immediately email your company academic counselor:

ALPHA – Ms. Bailey [email protected]

BRAVO – CPT Theodore [email protected]

CHARLIE – Ms. Sanchez [email protected]

HQ/M – Ms. DeAvila [email protected]

LAMC ECP – Mr. Vargas [email protected]

As you begin your classes, here are suggestions to help you get off to a solid start:

  •         Be sure you eat a nutritious breakfast each morning. It helps your brain and the rest of your body be ready for class.
  •         Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep a night. The more you sleep, the more you grow, the healthier you are, the more your brain can recharge, and the more ready you will be to learn.
  •         Use your academic planner – the electronic one I sent everyone a video to explain. Using a planner is known as an EXECUTIVE FUNCTION – something CEOs and other big-time leaders use as a powerful tool to stay organized, be productive, manage time, set goals, and meet deadlines. I implore every staff member to watch that video and insist that students make use of their electronic planners in every class and activity they undertake. I implore every student to use the electronic planner IN EVERY CLASS and for every activity every day. And I implore parents to go over the planner with their kids every night.
  •         Everyone begins the first day with straight As. Keep those grades by completing all your assigned classwork and homework and studying for quiz, tests, and exams.
  •         If you are struggling with homework, come to before school homework help each morning from 7-8AM while we are in virtual instruction. Tutors are available to help you. Just log into the before school HW help google classroom, whose code you can find in our new school newspaper that is taking the place of the Hawk Weekly. That newspaper is called the Hawks Cast News. As you hopefully know, a group of Hawks is called a Cast. Normally, a television station airs something called a Newscast. So NVMI has made a play on those words and calls our new school newspaper the Hawk Cast News. This is available on the internet at www.hawkscastnews.org and will be updated regularly. All NVMI community members will get a Monday email reminding them to read the Hawk Cast News for the latest information in all four of NVMI’s pillars.
  •         If you need help understanding any of your academic work, or need help completing an assignment or studying for a quiz, come to after school or Saturday help. The google classroom code for after school and Saturday help is also found at www.hawkscastnews.org.
  •         If you failed any classes during your high school career and have not yet made them up, be sure you work with your academic counselor to remediate those classes as soon as possible.
  •         Check your PowerSchool daily for your current grades and attendance. If you notice a missing assignment, communicate with your teacher to fix that problem. Parents are also encouraged to check their kids’ PowerSchool grades and attendance daily and communicate with teachers directly if you have any questions or concerns.
  •         Your first progress report will be emailed on September 25, so do all the above to help you keep your current straight A grades.
  •         If you have any technical difficulties with an NVMI Chromebook or hotspot, please email [email protected] and one of our tech team members will get back to you as soon as possible. I recommend you put your phone number in the email so they can call you back and help resolve the problem over the phone.

LEADERSHIP:

The pandemic has had a major impact on the ability of cadet leaders to experience the leadership laboratory that I normally found here 10-12 hours a day. But our amazing cadet leaders did a remarkable job operating a virtual Entrance Camp under unique and challenging circumstances. Some reminders about our leadership pillar:

  •         I encourage everyone in grades 7-12 to earn promotions up to the authorized rank for your grade level. Join the promotion google classroom to learn how you can earn promotions during this virtual time: wiriot6
  •         We are going to do several things to promote company spirit and competition, including weekly honor unit points for the companies with:

o   The highest attendance rate from the previous week

o   The most merits earned in the previous week

o   The highest average score on the weekly LOC current events quiz

o   The highest participation in academic support classes, including before school HW help, after school tutoring, and Saturday MASH

o   Winners of intramural competitions in both MS and HS

o   Fewest number of demerits earned

o   And more

  •         Be sure you have joined the Current Events google classroom at code: l7yjh4o
  •         Master Sergeant Carganilla and Airman Valladares are looking for any interested new or returning students who would like to learn to play an instrument. The NVMI will still have virtual rehearsals and individual lessons via Zoom so that as soon as we are safely able to do so, our incredible band can begin rehearsing and performing together in the community. If you are interested, please email Msgt Carganilla at [email protected]
  •         All students who successfully completed the virtual entrance camp are now PLEDGES and will work during the first four weeks of school to earn the rank of CADET and the right to wear the NVMI uniform. Once they are promoted to cadet, they will be issued the same uniforms as their cadet peers.
  •         All students who have not yet completed entrance camp are considered CANDIDATES and will participate in daily entrance camp after school with Air Force ROTC Cadet (and former NVMI Battalion Commander) Julian Robledo. Those candidates will work to learn what is expected of an NVMI cadet, strive to pass their five PTAs, Hawk Walk and Written Test, and earn status as pledges.
  •         We will have a daily virtual formation at the beginning of the lunch period to make school wide announcements and to allow students to “ring their virtual company bells” in recognition of achievements in one or more of the four NVMI pillars. These formations will take the form of an 8-10-minute video in which I will make announcements and recognize students who are ringing their virtual company bells (by flashing their names on the screen with a description of their achievement). All students and staff will be sent a daily link to the formation video to watch during the first few minutes of their lunch period.

CITIZENSHIP:

As always, I remind everyone to strive to adhere to the three guiding principles I constantly espouse: DO THE RIGHT THING, TREAT OTHER PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED and MAKE NVMI A BETTER PLACE. While virtual learning means we don’t have the benefit of in-person interaction, that means we need to continue to emphasize the wonderful things our students do by awarding merits. All staff are encouraged to remain positive and use merits to recognize cadets and pledges and candidates who follow those three principles. Of course, we hope few students do anything to earn demerits, but if they do, while we are in virtual learning, students will work off one point demerits by performing fifteen minutes of extra chores for their parents around the house, and parents will be asked to verify their child completed the necessary service time to erase earned one point demerits. As always, if a student earns a demerit they believe was unjust, they can file a demerit appeal form, which this year will be available through a google form.

We realize that the pandemic has had a profound impact on our families, and we will provide several socioemotional supports for students and families. Specifically:

  •         Most importantly, each class period we will provide activities for teachers and students to take care of their social and emotional health through structured experiences that help everyone take care of their socioemotional needs.
  •         All students always have access to our amazing counseling staff.
  •         The Cadet Activities Board will be planning a series of CHALLENGES, TASKS, and ACTIVITIES (CTAs) for all students. Information about these CTAs will be published in the Hawks Cast News.

A huge part of treating others the way you want to be treated connects with the Black Lives Matter movement and the tragic deaths of so many black and brown people at the hands of the police. There are countless wonderful, caring, competent servants in our police forces. But there are also bad actors there. The deaths of George Floyd and tens of thousands of others over the decades have finally resulted in what I hope is systemic change to how we all treat each other. On December 14, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr said, “There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice.” These two things – peace and justice – are inextricably linked. When we treat people the way we want to be treated, they feel loved and valued and appreciated and so do we when they reciprocate. When we treat people poorly for whatever reason, they are inclined to treat us poorly, and the vicious cycle perpetuates itself. The protests that have taken place since we last were in school have hopefully set into motion a sea of change rooted in both peace and justice. Protesting injustice as we have seen these past months shines a light on evil. There is evil in this world, and hatred, injustice, prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance are among the most heinous forms of evil.

NVMI formed a working group of students, parents, and staff to consider how we can make NVMI a better place by promoting respect, tolerance, understanding, and unity, How can work together to fight against hatred, injustice, prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance — all things that sadly exist here in our school, our city, our state, our nation, and our world. But I believe we can and will make NVMI a better place by enacting concrete steps to blot out these evils and help every member of the NVMI community feel loved and respected and valued. If you have no yet joined our working group to tackle these critical issues, please reach out to Mr. Shelton, chair of the working group at [email protected]

ATHLETICS:

Perhaps the saddest thing about this pandemic for me has been the cancellation of athletics and postponement of our fall and winter seasons. We obviously do not know if and when athletic contests will begin again, but know that as soon as it is permissible and safe to do so, NVMI will continue to offer the superb interscholastic athletic program we have built over the last seven years. In the meantime, we encourage all our athletes and anyone who would like to play on one of our sports teams to STAY FIT. We all should be doing daily exercise, including at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic activities like walking, jogging, biking, swimming, skateboarding, etc. We should also be working on strength and endurance building as well as flexibility for arms, chests, shoulders, backs, abdominals, and legs. When the permission comes for us to commence interscholastic athletics, we will all want to be prepared to immediately step onto the field or track or court or course.

A huge part of that is eating right. Free meals will continue to be provided through our agreement with LAUSD. Please be sure you are all eating healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. It is not a lie that many people have gained 15, 20, 25, 30 or more pounds during the pandemic because they are eating a lot more and exercising less. We all know that the way to stay at or reach a healthy weight is to eat right and exercise regularly.

Our PE classes will be providing opportunities for students to complete in intramural athletics and other competitions. I highly recommend everyone participate, especially since this is a big part of your PE grade.

Every academic class will also provide opportunities for at least five minutes of physical activity breaks to help make long days of learning on Zoom more palatable and impactful.

We have a great plan to provide fun fitness and social activities at local parks and other locations as soon as LA County tells us this is permissible. Stay tuned to the Hawks Cast News for information about these opportunities.

SOME FINAL WORDS:

I am truly sorry we are unable to have in person instruction, and I assure you that as soon as it is safe to do so, we will resume. But in the meantime, please be sure you stay healthy by washing your hands frequently with soap and water, using hand sanitizer, wearing a face covering whenever interacting with people outside your home, social distancing, and treating everyone as though they might have COVID-19. That does not mean to distance yourself socially or emotionally. If you ever are feeling sad or lonely, need someone to talk to, have a problem you would like to discuss, just want to have an uplifting conversation with someone who cares, or have questions – know that the NVMI staff is here for you – EACH OF YOU. We are a call or email or text message away. As always, my phone is available to anyone who needs me at 323-217-4481. I can connect you with one of our incredible counselors or other staff members or services within our community.

Our school office will be open weekdays from 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM if you would like to stop by for help or information – wearing your mask of course.

I anxiously await our return to in person instruction, and I continue to wish that everyone in the NVMI family is safe and healthy.