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  Teaching the Mind…Reaching the Heart

Westlake Christian School, founded in 1995 by the congregation of Palm Harbor United Methodist Church, is a college preparatory school serving children in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade.  At Westlake, we are “teaching the mind and reaching the heart” of the next generation.  We do so through Westlake’s rigorous curricula at all grade levels which prepares students to enter high school with a sound academic and spiritual foundation.  In the fall of 2012, Westlake was named a National Blue Ribbon School.  Westlake Christian School is fully accredited by the Florida Kindergarten Council, the Florida Council of Independent Schools, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/AdvancED.

 

News from Westlake Christian School

 

March 16, 2020

 

Dear Westlake Community—

 

By now, we are all becoming accustomed to the fact that our lives are somewhat in flux for the moment. The daily routines to which we’ve subscribed have been greatly interrupted. Life seems uncertain right now as we wait to hear news of who has Coronavirus, what the Dow Jones Industrial Average will do, what will happen with school, and generally, just how long our lives will look the way they do today. As we write, we are aware of new guidelines to be released today or tomorrow from the Centers for Disease Control and/or the President. Those guidelines may, in fact, bring us additional restrictions. We shall see and adjust our lives accordingly. These days just don’t look like we thought they would. 

 

Hopefully, many of you stopped whatever you were doing on Sunday morning to “attend” a church service—albeit an online one. Most churches in the area held their Sunday service in a livestream format rather than in person. Some pastors changed their regularly scheduled sermons to help their congregations try to process this pandemic; others found solace in the fact that their planned sermons appeared to be the one their particular church needed and had significant relevance.

 

All that to say that on March 1st, a day when we did not know how much this situation was unfolding, to March 16th, a time when we face new realities daily, God was and is on the throne. He was there at the beginning of March; He remains on the throne today. It's true that these days don't look like we thought they would, but God knew how they would go all along. For adults, this time may be unsettling. We can take heart in the peace and hope that comes only from God as we walk through this time together. We encourage you not only to take care of yourselves physically, but also to take care of your needs emotionally and spiritually. For example, admittedly, I am a news junkie. I can watch CNN, ABC, and Fox News for hours if I allow myself to do so. That’s probably not the best idea! From a spiritual standpoint, I pulled out a particular book of prayers that I’ve had for some time but not used recently. I’m adding this book to my devotional reading. 

 

In fact, we might all be engaged in more reading than usual. So, we recognize you’ve had some time these last few days to peruse all kinds of writings about how best to talk with your children about what’s happening right now and Coronavirus. Below are a few tips of which you might have thought:

 

  • First, if you do not do the above—take care of your own needs—you will be hard pressed to care for your children well. Our children are taking their cues from us. They always do.
  • Children of all ages need some reassurance right now that we are able to care for them. If everyone in the family is doing well and feeling well, emphasize this fact. If not, assure your children you are seeking medical advice and help.
  • Let your children talk about how they are feeling and reframe anything that is not in keeping with the current realities.
  • Monitor and limit television viewing related to this virus and advise older children that everything they read on the Internet is not necessarily true. 
  • Develop a new routine that you will use for the time-being. Given that most, if not all, activities have been canceled, decide what any given day will look like. (We will have more on the schoolwork for after Spring Break later.)
  • Be honest and accurate about what we know about the disease and how we can try to limit our exposure, such as handwashing, staying away from sick people, and more.
  • Revisit good hygiene, such as handwashing and the like which includes throwing away your tissues, trash, etc.

 

Tips by Age

 

* Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. As above, give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”

* Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to our school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.

* Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.

 

Some members of our community have children who are now young adults. Obviously, this age group can care for themselves; however, some will require us as parents to check-in with them to ensure they are well. Some may need their own level of reassurance and ability to gather guidance. If these young adults are not living at home, they may need us as parents to assist them in processing what is happening nationally and globally.

 

Finally, Westlake has many grandparents who play active roles in the lives of their families and also in the life of the school. Your family’s grandparents will benefit from the care and concern from you, their children and grandchildren, bearing in mind none of us should visit when we are feeling under the weather.

 

Speaking of visiting, we have a word to the wise on the notion and practice of “social distancing,” which has become a popular topic and encouraged practice in the last few days. The experts tell us that if we are to address Coronavirus well and quickly, we need to limit gatherings for a time. Again, we do not know what the new, general guidelines will be today for any topic, but we do know the guidance for event planners that came out last night: Don’t hold an event with more than 50 people for eight weeks. 

 

With all of this information in mind, we highly recommend that our Westlake families refrain from such activities as visiting the mall, going to the movie theater, holding sleepovers, and the like. The mall and movie theater may be closed soon…we simply do not know. In fact, we may be in a total lockdown of our country at some point. Regardless, if we do have access to these social activities, limiting our time in these ways and others may be helpful to the overall picture.

 

As far as school goes, we will be in touch with you further as we make you aware of the specifics around learning for the week following Spring Break. We know you have questions around how long we will be away from the physical building and more, but at this time, we cannot answer those questions. While it seems that some states and school districts appear to have definitive plans, we understand that ultimately, we will be relying upon the local, state, and federal guidelines to help in our decision-making. It's true that we do not typically make choices based upon the state and local school district, but in this case, we believe in the prudence of doing so. Simply put, we do not know the answer(s) because everything continues to unfold daily.

 

If you have anything you need, please do not hesitate to contact me. We will be in touch soon with another communication. We will get through this challenging time in our country, serving to strengthen us. May God grant you a sense of peace in the days ahead.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mrs. Roggenbaum

 

 

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About the School
  • National Blue Ribbon School
  • College Preparatory Program
  • Well-Rounded experience
  • Strong academics across all areas:
    • Language Arts
    • Math
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Technology
    • Foreign Languages
  • Fine Arts Development in vocal, instrumental, and theatre arts
  • Sports Academy in K - 4th grades and competitive sports 5th - 8th grades
  • Leadership Development, through National Junior Honor Society, Student Government, Student Ambassadors and others
  • Community Service through local and international programs
  • Duke University Talent Identification Program with more than 55 percent of students in 4th - 8th grade qualifying

 

Aacredschool.jpgccredited by:

Florida Kindergarten Council, Florida Council of Independent Schools,

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/AdvancED


 

CONTACT INFO
Address: 1551 Belcher Road, Palm Harbor, FL 34683
Phone: 727-785-7487
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