Greetings from the ACSI Student Activities team! We hope that you are healthy and safe in this challenging COVID-19 environment. We recognize that most of you, like us, had to quickly pivot to working from home, and we commend you for your tireless efforts to provide a God-honoring, quality education for your students. We appreciate every person that stepped up to host and/or chair a Student Activities event this past year, and we are grateful that so many of your students were able to participate in one or more events. Even though we are disappointed that some of our events had to be canceled because of the pandemic, we are thankful for the events that did take place that allowed you to showcase your students’ God-given talents and skills.
As you and your colleagues grapple with what the new norm will look like when schools reopen, the Student Activities team is prayerfully considering ways that we can best serve you. We recognize that while students may be able to return to school in the fall, classes may have to convert to online learning if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. While nothing compares to students and teachers gathering at a live event, the uncertainties we face challenge our ability to host live events during the 2020-2021 school year. Taking into consideration the CDC recommendations for schools, as well as research from experienced digital event planners, the Student Activities team has been hard at work on a plan to reliably deliver services in a way that assures the safety of the students and staff, reinforces learning, and creates opportunities for students to shine. The plan allows us to continue to enhance what you are doing in the classroom and eliminates the need to rework or cancel events mid-year.
By now, you must be wondering, what IS the plan for 2020-21?
- All in-person Math competitions will transition to events with entries either submitted by mail or online.
- Online submission and adjudication will be used for Art Festivals, Creative Writing Festivals, Music Festivals, and Speech Meets. Entries will be showcased through an on-line gallery which could be viewed world-wide, and schools in remote areas of our country and across the globe will be able to participate.
- Middle School and High School Leadership Conferences are being thoughtfully designed for your student leadership teams to experience virtually together. Corresponding interactive activities and project planning will be interspersed with speaker content to engage students and keep your servant leadership momentum progressing within your communities.
- As for the Spelling Bee, we cannot offer this as a virtual event and maintain the security and quality that you have come to expect. Regrettably, ACSI will not be hosting district, regional or national competitions next year. We will, however, be offering the opportunity to purchase Spelling Bee packages that would include handbooks, word lists, sentences, awards, and certificate templates. You will have the freedom to schedule your Spelling Bee at a time that best fits your school calendar and you will have everything you need to prepare, promote, and host your event on campus.
Our team members are also taking this time to “re-imagine” the future of Student Activities and determine how we can best support 21st Century Christian Education and Schooling. We are actively pursuing partnership opportunities with ACSI’s Strategic Partners and member colleges and universities to provide speech and debate competitions as well as innovation events in the areas of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math). We are committed to continue our research and create new ways to support you as an educator and provide quality events that enhance learning beyond the classroom.
Before we open registration in the fall, we will invite all Student Activities event coordinators and chairpersons to attend a virtual Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, August 12, at 2:00 pm (EDT), where we will further explain our plans for next year and beyond. We hope that you will plan to join us for this informative session with the Student Activities team. In the meantime, we would love to hear from you! If you have questions or comments about what we have shared with you, please email a Student Activities team member.
Be assured that we have been praying for all of you in this time of uncertainty and transition. We rejoice that we serve a God who is in control and is continuing to work in our lives and the lives of our students! Please stay healthy and safe as you close out the school year. Thank you again for your support and participation in Student Activities.
Serving you and your students,
David M. Ray, Assistant Vice President – Student Services
Jana Csehy and Megan Ilertsen, Student Activities Coordinators
Lynette Ilertsen, Lynn Storey, and Sonia Lipsey, Student Activities Assistants
Julie Phipps, Leadership Conferences Coordinator