District Welcomes 2,577 Students Back to School
The School District of University City welcomed about 2,580 students back to school on Monday, August 23 for the 2021-22 school year. About 98% of PreK-12 students are attending in-person instruction in school buildings five days a week. Less than 4% will take classes remotely through state-certified semester-long courses operated by MOCAP.
The start of the school year was especially gratifying for the District’s high school students who learned fully online in the past school year due to COVID-19. The high schoolers were welcomed to the school by cheering and alumni and staff with a walk up a red carpet as they entered the school.
On Friday, August 20, Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley sent her welcome back video to all families and staff speaking to the themes of safety and health and the concept of Radical Love.
“Radical love gives us the heart to connect with others. Radical love gives us the energy to fight for change and press for excellence in all of our students - because we love them. Radical love gives us the courage to experience the world with our students, our families and our colleagues together as one love so we all rise up,” Hardin-Bartley said.
“This year, I challenged our staff to double down on love. I told them to go radical with it in the face of disappointment and fear of others. Bring it in their classrooms, in the hallways, on the playing fields and with their colleagues. This year we can love powerfully, instinctually and loyally on our students and ourselves despite our hardships.”
Students returned to an energized staff who spent early August participating in professional development which included intensive discussions on the unchecked trauma of racial inequity and ways to address it. Discussions also centered on Radical Love, and what it takes to love a community and people so we all rise up. On Monday, August 16, all staff participated in a fun lunchtime block party followed by more than 20 wellness activities to choose from at the high school, including kickball, basketball, sewing, walking with llamas, cupcake decorating, art classes, line dancing, potion making, succulent planting and more.
Students are discovering new spaces and building upgrades as well. At Brittany Woods Middle School students came back to a new outdoor learning pavilion in the courtyard, perfect for outdoor lunches and classrooms, school events and club activities. Lieberman Learning Center students checked into their new learning spaces in a dedicated corridor of the high school. The space includes colorful and inspirational murals, tall tables and chairs and other furniture more attuned to preparing for the adult working world and college.
Earlier in August, most of the District’s central office staff relocated to 7700 Olive Boulevard in a newly renovated building that sits at the corner of North and South. The building houses offices for the superintendent, board of education, human resources, student services, SSD, finance and communications as well as space for future in-person Board of Education Meetings. Members of the District’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction have relocated to newly renovated offices at the high school.
The District begins the school year with a complete plan to keep its community safe, healthy, flourishing and connected as it continues to deal with COVID-19.
The District anticipates a full year of regularly scheduled athletics seasons, continued student clubs, district-wide events and school events that adhere to highly effective mitigation strategies to protect our community against COVID-19.
Additionally, thanks to grants and federal funding, the District now has social workers in every school building, additional counselors, expanded services for student and family therapy, anti-racial bias training and accelerated trauma-informed responses and practices so our community remains well.
As always, the District adheres to its vision of Learning Reimagined and works courageously and authentically to build meaningful relationships in our community. Together, we share the Heart of a Lion.