As I mentioned in Friday’s email, we’ve been working hard toward planning for graduation for the Class of 2020 as well as a non-residential high school summer school. Much research, thought, and collaboration has gone into each of these to come to the best solution possible when doing what we’ve done in the past isn’t an option.
Graduation. Graduation will look very different from any other graduation–ever. In its essence, it is a drive-through graduation yet will be embellished with fanfare, personalization, and appropriately distanced social interaction with teachers and administrators.
It will be a memory unlike any other and will certainly be recounted for years to come. Seniors, don your caps and gowns, pick your vehicle—a convertible, the family van, a pickup truck—and decorate it for the occasion. As you drive on campus, Public Safety will direct your route.
Teachers will line the route with smiles and signs to congratulate your accomplishments. Mr. Hunt and others will greet you at the end of the route—in front of the Main—to award you your diploma.
All will be livestreamed and photographed so you can watch your classmates receive their diplomas. A video—available shortly afterwards—will be created from the livestream and will include testimonies, awards, and more.
Summer school. Even if our governor were to announce relaxed restrictions in the next few weeks, it’s likely those would include continued limitations about size of gatherings. Along with our summer school teachers we’ve looked at all kinds of options—cancel it altogether this summer? Hope for a delayed (residential) opening? Go online with our regular teachers and schedule? Go online with our regular teachers later in the summer?
As we looked and discussed options, we quickly recognized that what’s best for BJA’s families and students is that we do offer some kind of summer school. The possibility of residential summer school even with a delayed opening is so unlikely that we chose to develop a concrete plan now rather than delaying the decision. What about our summer school faculty teaching it online as they’ve been doing the last few weeks? The simple answer is that it is not a workable option. Because of the compressed schedule, summer school teachers manage approximately a week’s worth of content every day—a task that is virtually impossible without significant lead time to prepare online content (even were they to use BJU Press online products—great products, but not set up for a fast-turn-around summer school virtual school). Their perception of how students would do in that scenario is also a factor—these experienced educators don’t believe that our keeping summer school “as is” though online is reasonable for our students.
In working through these questions with our staff, the Press, and others, we determined that the best option is to use a third-party provider, Sevenstar. Sevenstar is a Christian virtual school providing biblical worldview content through online delivery and assessment under skilled teachers. They also can easily adjust to a summer school schedule.
The pricing ($685) is less than we had planned for summer school classes. Most of you know that tuition benefits can be included as part of a Bob Jones employee’s salary compensation. While we are unable to provide summer school without cost to these families, we were able to negotiate a significant discount through shared sacrifice. The tuition-benefited price for summer school will be $345. I realize this is still unexpected and likely unwelcome which takes me back to the original thoughts of the difficulty of the challenges we are currently experiencing. We have looked at multiple options. Of all that we have considered, this is the best solution.
Overall, as you review these and the other announcements in this letter, I trust you will find encouragement in the decisions going forward. This has been a challenging time for you as parents. We have been working diligently to serve you sensibly and sensitively. Each day we pray for God’s wisdom to provide your children with quality education that exalts and honors the Lord.
Hang on—this is a looong list, but we hope it answers many of your questions in a helpful way. We’ll try to keep it concise so it’s easy to read. Here goes!
Cancellations (in addition to ones we’ve already announced)
- K3–5: onsite book fair; however, Vacation Stations are available about a block from school, at The Educator’s Marketplace at 1430 Wade Hampton Blvd #212
- 6–8: Middle school play, concerts
- Junior-Senior Banquet (The Jr-Sr Banquet fee will be reimbursed via a credit to the student’s school account. Guest date fees will be reimbursed through the high school office.)
- Speech & Debate banquet
- Drama Class plays
- Class parties for Freshmen, Sophomore, and Senior Classes
- Media Luncheon
Rising K3–current grade 5 Step-Up Day (virtually) on May 5: Tuesday, May 5, is Step-Up-Day! Watch for exciting videos that introduce your student to the next grade level, or, for 5th graders, introduce students to the middle school. We’ll email the K3 video to parents of rising K3 students; the other videos will be available in Seesaw.
K3–8 Academy meal plans/Academy Bucks: BJA’s food service provider, Aramark, will roll forward current balances, including any incentive bonus bucks, to next school year. The carried-over amounts will be available through the end of first semester. (This is not available for summer camps.) For families with a rising 9th grader who has no younger siblings at the elementary or middle school, the balance will be refunded (excluding incentive bonus bucks) through that student’s BJA school account. Questions? Contact Aramark’s office in BJU’s Dining Common at (864) 370-1800 ext. 5100.
K3–12 Classes conclude by May 12: In order to prepare for awards assemblies and more, our last academic day will be Tuesday, May 12 (Monday, May 11, for seniors). Some secondary classes, such as music groups, will end a bit earlier due to cancelled concerts and/or in order to lighten the load as a student moves toward the end of the semester; teachers will let their students know details as needed.
K3–12 Awards Assemblies on May 13: To honor students who have excelled this school year, we’re creating awards assembly videos. These will be made available on or by Wednesday, May 13, to Seesaw (K3–5) or a secondary student’s Google Classroom.
K3–12 Drop & Drive on May 14 (K3–8) and May 13 (9–12): We’re planning how to return BJA-owned items such as textbooks and Chromebooks as well as pick-up any belongings a student has left at school; students can also see their teachers as they come through. (Dates and times differ because of the details related to this year’s graduation—location, personnel, and required set-up. Keep reading….)
- K3–8: Thursday, May 14, 9 a.m.–noon
- 9–12: Wednesday, May 13, from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
K5 graduation on May 13: Kindergarten graduation is live and online this year, on Wednesday, May 13, at 9 a.m. Details have been given in Seesaw.
K5–10 Achievement testing: Though we’re unable to do regular achievement testing at school, we do want to make testing in the key sections (reading and math) available to you. If you are interested in your student coming for properly socially distanced testing, please let us know (elementary school, middle school, high school) before the last day of school, Thursday, May 14. We plan to schedule the testing sometime during the week of Memorial Day, Tuesday through Friday, May 26–29.
5–7 Fall electives registration: In case you missed it, registration for electives for rising middle school students is due by Friday, May 1.
8 Welcome to High School (virtually): Stay tuned for an entertaining virtual tour of the high school’s Quadrangle.
8–11 Fall registration: registration for rising high school students is open now through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4.
8–12 High school summer school: As mentioned above, this summer we’re going online for summer school by partnering with Sevenstar, an online Christian virtual school. Summer school registration is open now through 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4.
9–12 Academian and Triangle: High school students should watch their Google Classroom on Wednesday, May 5, for the Big Reveal of this year’s Academian. High school students will pick up their Academian and Triangle during the Drop & Drive on Wednesday, May 13.
BJA Graduation on May 14, 2 p.m.: As mentioned above, we’re looking forward to an exciting drive-through graduation, complete with caps and gowns, diplomas, official photos, a parade, and a live webcast for everyone to enjoy. Seniors can pick up their cap and gown on Friday, May 1, between 1 and 3 p.m., via a curbside pick-up at the curb in front of the Main. Mr. Hunt explains more of the thinking that went into this graduation plan. We’ll communicate more details closer to the event itself. And, seniors and families, be sure to save the date, Saturday, August 1, for a late-summer social, should social distancing limitations be sufficiently lifted by then.
That’s all—for now.
Praying for you.
Dr. Dan Nelson