Forest Hills: Still doing whatever it takes
When principal Kevin Plue chose “Whatever It Takes” as the theme for his staff and students at Forest Hills High School this year, he didn’t know exactly what that might mean, and he definitely couldn’t foresee all that’s come along, but it doesn’t change the idea or the expectation.
You see, Plue, his staff, his students, and the community have committed to do whatever it takes to make Forest Hills a family that supports each other and pushes each other. The mission statement of Forest Hills High School is “helping each student reach his or her highest potential,” and it’s not just words. It’s the mission, the end game.
So in this difficult time of school closure, Plue records and posts his morning announcements on YouTube each day and shares the link on social media. He emails his teachers daily encouraging them to keep in touch with their students, make sure they’re okay, and share resources that can help students and families with their basic needs and with keeping their minds sharp.
And the staff is on board. Teachers are finding new ways to do things. They are sharing screencast videos with each other of how to use tools in Canvas that are great for this new challenge. There were so many emails going back and forth with great ideas that Plue created a shared document, the Teleworking Shared Space, for teachers and admins to post and organize all their ideas.
The culture of the school has always included a lot of positivity and school spirit. The very active Student Council was already planning a Spring Fling Spirit Week, so they’ve taken it digital with Virtual Spirit Week beginning Mon., March 23. The Student Council student leaders and their advisers, Mr. Bryan Rudolph and Ms. Christi Ponder, worked to pull it together quickly and adapt it for the circumstances. You see the graphic they shared on social media in this article.
Two days before the Governor called for schools to be closed for the coronavirus, Union County Public schools had to close because of E. coli contamination in the county water supply. The first of those two days, students were supposed to receive their report cards. Then the first week of closure for coronavirus was supposed to be “Green Week,” the week that Forest Hills celebrates all students who are “in the green,” meaning they’ve earned 7 or more points out of 10 possible on their student incentive cards.They can earn points for their attendance, grades, behavior, and getting to class on time. Assistant Principal, Mrs. Courtney Lisk made sure that she shared on social media all the kids that were in the green so that they could still be recognized.
Forest Hills’ social media game is strong, thanks to Lisk and Plue who use it to keep students, parents, and staff informed and engaged. One of the hashtags for this period has been #TogetherApart, a really fitting description of how Jacket Nation is getting through this difficult time, because even with the school building closed, we’re still Forest Hills. And we know that Forest Hills High School is not a building; it’s a family, one that will do “whatever it takes” to support each other and help each other succeed.