Water Issues and Final Days

Closing Ceremony Livestream

Next Friday, the last day of school, on June 22, we offer up again our closing ceremony starting at 10:45 a.m.  We will be Livestreaming the event at the following link:

https://livestream.com/accounts/15498644/events/8237556

Local Area Water Issues

We’ve had a string of water issues over the last week since our last eNotes.  Last week, Sunday, and again yesterday (Tuesday), the school and general area of Konstancin was without water for a short time in the morning between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.  In all cases, our systems alerted us to the problem in the early morning hours and GTC, the developer of the local housing area, informed us that a pump had malfunctioned causing reserve water to be depleted.  In all three cases, GTC called maintenance crews to the site which required a 45 minute response time.  Then, an additional wait time was required until the reserve sufficiently filled before the water could be turned back on.  In all three cases, this was another 45-60 minutes.  We instituted normal health protocols at school by limiting early morning access to bathrooms and close monitoring.  We also re-routed some restroom traffic to the annex building which is setup with its own rainwater reserve system that can be utilized even when external water supplies are shut off.  Given the timing and the estimates provided by GTC for repair time, we did not have any impact on other services and no consideration was given to closing school.  If we had received indication from GTC that repairs would push us beyond our 10:30 a.m. threshold, other measures would have been taken and additional communication would have been sent to parents, including the potential for mid-day school closure.  In these instances, those measures were not necessary.

We understand from GTC that they are in the process of making a final switch from the pump based system to a municipal water supply.  That switch over is planned in the coming days and this should resolve any further outages.  But, we continue to meet with GTC representatives to assure our water supply to the school as a priority with shortened response times when problems emerge.  For those who reside in the nearby area, we encourage your involvement in working with GTC to assure that we all have reliable systems in our local area and reaffirm our commitment to GTC as a partner in this work.

Departing and New Faculty & Administration

You will find today on Zimplicity a summary of departing and arriving faculty and administrators for the next school year.  It’s great to be getting to know our new Warriors and we’ll be saying goodbye to our current Warriors who are on their way to new adventures!  Please join me in thanking them for their service and in welcoming the new faces who will be arriving in August!  You’ll find the comprehensive summary here:

https://zimplicity.org/asw-new-facultyadmin-for-2018-2019/

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Bringing the year to a close…

A few items on the final horizon as we approach the end of the year.  Just a couple of bullets for your attention:

  • Parent Survey kicked off with wonderful participation in its first weekend.  If you did not receive an email from the school requesting participation, please contact us as we have sent the invitation and the first reminder.  Check junk folders just in case the message accidentally found its way there instead of your inbox.  Contact us if you did not receive it and we’ll check the email addresses to make sure you receive your invitation.
  • Closing Ceremony this year will be Friday, June 22 @ 10:45a in the Annex Gym.  We will be live-streaming the event as well as welcoming all to our standing room only assembly bringing closure to our year and including our parade of all nations.
  • Summer School continues to accept registration through our CHQ system.  The Athletics and Activities office will be offering another year of wonderful activities during the first two weeks of the summer, June 25 to July 6.

Safety Note

There was a serious accident along the road behind the school property, Powsinska Street on Sunday. The accident included a bicyclist and vehicle.  The cyclist lost his life in the accident.  Our security team spoke with the officers responding to the incident and the causes of the accident likely included high speed of the vehicle, wet pavement and minimal sight lines.  The driver of the vehicle is in custody.  We do not believe any member of the school community  was involved.  But, as a safety precaution, I’m informing the community that we can no longer recommend Powsinska Street for bicycle traffic and we further recommend that cars entering our back entrance pay close attention to speeds on this road to and from the school.  Many parents have reported close calls on that road and, while it is a popular route to the school’s back entrance, we need to increase our awareness and caution on this stretch of pavement.

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Parent Survey

Later this week, you will be receiving and important email from the American School of Warsaw inviting you to participate in a schoolwide survey.  Similar to our last survey of this type conducted back in 2016, we begin an annual process for gathering regular and consistent data from parents and students about our programs and services.

In his book Visible Learning, John Hattie confirmed that data and research is one of our best tools for continuous school improvement.  One of the most important tools we have is our own action towards gathering feedback and developing action plans around these measured results.  The survey you are being asked to complete will be used annually at the end of each school year and progress will be monitored over time.  Only about 10-15% of the survey will change each year, such that we maintain a solid core of data that can be compared year after year.

Note that each parent will receive a seperate email for EACH student in the family.  Invitations include a personalized link to the survey that is associated with a specific child and parent.  Each survey is somewhat customized based on the grade level of the child, but many of the questions will be the same for each child in a given family.  Anonymity is protected in the application since responses are recorded in a database that is seperate and unlinked to our invitation list.

All parents are invited to interpret their child’s experience and their own understanding of that experience to contribute to the survey, potentially differently for each child.  In some cases, one parent or the other may choose not to participate.  A seperate link in the email will allow a parent to opt out of the survey.   If you do not participate and use the link provided, you will continue to receive email reminders from us until the survey closes on July 1, 2018.

We will compile the results and start sharing the findings in the fall shortly after the opening of school.  Thank you in advance for your kind attention to this important task!!

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Graduation Speech 2018

To all of our special guests, faculty, administration, parents, friends, and family members – we thank you for your pride and presence as we celebrate this, our 25th commencement exercises for the class of 2018.

First, my sincere gratitude to Rob Batchelder for your words and your friendship in our graduation ceremony today.  It is a testament to the longstanding relationship between the American School and the US Embassy in Warsaw.  But, more importantly, it will be my fondest memory of our time on this path together.

Mr. Sheehan, thank you again for confirming your deep bond to the students you serve along with your brilliant team.  As always, you are proud of them and, in return, they honor you with their trust and admiration.

Christina and Sara, thank you for representing your classmates so eloquently.  You both captured the experience brilliantly, each in your own special way.

Dr. Taylor, I thank you for your inspiration and wisdom.  As promised in our assembly yesterday you effectively juggled  your words, bringing a message filled with heart and promise.

Students, your teachers know you as engaged learners, empowered by your passion, caring of each other, and motivated to accomplish big goals. Faculty, counselors, and administrators seated before you are beaming with pride.  And they are a talented group who do not consider their work to be the filling of a vessel, but more the launching of a ship.  Their nurturing spirit has prepared you for your voyage and the many challenges on the horizon.

We know as an international community that many here on this stage have had other schooling experiences before joining us in Warsaw. Also, some stay with us for a time, leave for a bit, and then return. It is part of being an international school that we embrace this constant flux of change and transition.  But, as has been my tradition in many schools over a number of years, I’d like to recognize some special Warriors on this stage, nurtured from the beginning of their schooling experience entirely to graduation at the American School. As I call these names, please stand and remain standing so that we can recognize all of you as a group:

10​ Students have been identified as having been here since either Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten:

Kindergarten:

  • Alexander C.
  • Matthew M.
  • Maximilian O.
  • Chan Woo P.
  • Oskar P.
  • Sarah H.

Pre-Kindergarten:

  • Kashish K.
  • Michal K.
  • Iga L.
  • Sara M.

Please recognize these students and their families as our Warriors of longest standing.

525,600 minutes – No that is not how long my speech is going to be.

525,600 minutes How do you measure, Measure a year – these are lyrics from a song entitled Seasons of Love from the Broadway Musical Rent.  It’s a powerful song that filled my ears recently and I’m always caught by how it’s one of those tunes that seems to bridge generations.

But, in particular, a key lyric buried in the song goes like this:

It’s time now to sing out,
Though the story never ends.
Let’s celebrate, remember, a year in a life of friends.

525,600 minutes.  A metaphor for our celebration today.

But I thought I would do a little math of my own…

Let’s see – 13 years of school times180 school days, 6 hours per day, 60 minutes per hour:  I know there is a math whiz on this stage that already knows the answer…

842,400 minutes – That’s the journey of your education.

Oh – but wait.  If you add a couple of years of pre-school, it sizes up to over 950,000 minutes.  Then, I started thinking, maybe there was also a bit of summer school and maybe some after school activities, homework time, extended essay research, a few weekend trips for school related sports or academics, some service time on the weekends at animal shelters, and possibly a lesson or two from a piano teacher.  So, since we are all friends here, let’s just round it up to a nice even one million minutes.  1 million minutes invested in your education so far.

Much of life is about perspective and there is a truth about this perspective.  Here it is:  You will never go to school as much after this day as you have already completed.  Even if you go on to complete a MA and PhD investing about 8 years’ of time, it will still pale by comparison to what you have already invested between the time you started walking and talking, and TODAY.  1 million minutes.  Job well done!  Putting it in perspective, the next learning journey should be a piece of cake!

I value that this last year, your 64,800 minutes, will be many of the most remembered.  As noted in our proceedings, you have been a powerful and capable class.  We watched you listen, learn, study, struggle, and dance.  I hope that the entire experience of your education has given you perspective that you too can take into life.  Value each other always, gather family and friends close at every opportunity and cherish the precious moments past, present, and future.

Two years ago was a special graduation for me, owing to my first born son crossing a stage very similar to this one, and I am now contemplating a similar moment for my daughter just one year from now.  My closing and traditional message is gleaned from my perspective as a father, privileged to have led the schools where my two children have studied and will have graduated.  This traditional message, I will note, is particularly poignant on Mother’s Day.

In these final words, I speak for the parents in the audience and I know this will resonate in their hearts as it does in mine:

To the children in the Class of 2018 — when we say we love you, as we often do, it is not because of habit or routine. It is because of how we really feel deep inside each time we utter the words.  The following has been and always will be true:

  • you inspire us
  • you complete us
  • you give our lives meaning

While we will feel lost without you during the times we are apart, we are so proud of your launching, warmed by the anticipation of all that we know you are yet to become.

We love you so much!!

Go forth all of you — embrace your family and then life!!

At this time, I ask Principal Michael Sheehan and Chair of the ASW Board of Trustees, Mr. Rob Batchelder to please join me on stage for the conferring of diplomas…

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