Lunches & Lessons


Coronavirus Classroom Shows Clinton’s Cooperation.




As we all found out on Sunday, March 15, out of an abundance of caution the Governor closed schools for a period from March 16 – March 31, 2020. Will this “pause” be extended beyond the date? No one knows; however, I know District 56 responded with a laser-focused plan of action including how we provide instruction and how we deliver meals.

I am so very proud of the district employees for coming together to plan instruction, create packets, post e-learning on different platforms, pack breakfasts and lunches, and meet cars in school drive-throughs to hand out packets and food items.

Although we have never experienced what we now are experiencing, we see the need and understand the wise counsel of our government leaders.  We also are so appreciative for how our employees — teachers, administrators, classified staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and a host of others — have rallied to do what is necessary.

Thanks in large part to the coordination and cooperation of Food Service and Transportation, students not able to pick up lunches at CHS or Joanna-Woodson have meals brought to them. Our bus drivers graciously drive “newly created routes” while teachers and cafeteria workers ride along happily handing out meals to students at the designated “drop points.” Thanks to the coordinated efforts, nearly 1,398 meals were served on Wednesday, March 18, and 2,167 meals on Thursday, March 19, 2020. 

This massive effort requires a lot of assembly line labor to coordinate both breakfast and lunch items sorted, selected, and bagged efficiently and effectively. Kudos to Cindy Jacobs and Edwina Bridges for making this happen!

On the instructional front, principals, teachers, and district office staff assembled by grade level to create meaningful, relevant, and appropriately challenging assignments. Printers ran and ran (and the technology department kept all devices running smoothly with no down time) and packets were assembled, stapled, organized, and distributed by grade level to parents in orderly distribution zones either outside in the schools’ traffic circles or inside in clearly assigned areas in the office or library. By Wednesday afternoon, March 18, there were very, very few packets left unclaimed, each with the student’s name on them):

-- Nine (9) packets NOT picked up at MS Bailey (out of 124 students); 

-- Twelve (12) packets NOT picked up at CES (out of 502 students);

-- Eighteen (18) packets NOT picked up at EES (out of 457 students);

-- Ten (10) packets NOT picked up at JWES, (out of 320 students); and 

-- Twenty-one (21) packets NOT picked up at CMS (out of 680 students). 

For the mathematically inclined, that translates to a pick-up average of 97.6%. That is OUTSTANDING! Parents, guardians, and other adults receive a standing ovation for keeping instruction going even while at home.

At CHS, much of the learning is online (through Google Classroom); however, parents and students still had the opportunity to pick up packets. In 9th grade, parents claimed 116 packets out of 229; 121 packets out of 229 in 10th grade; 55 packets out of 175 in 11th grade; and 43 packets out of 152 in 12th grade. Although the numbers are not nearly as high, students have e-learning already. For me, the testament is a willingness to stay connected even if internet connectivity is not possible. 

People often wonder what makes Clinton different. 

I have mentioned time and time again how our district, our schools, our athletic and academic teams, and fine arts consistently “punch above” our weight class. Using a boxing analogy, “punching above one’s weight class” is very good thing. It means although you are smaller, you hit harder than those in your own division … you can move up in weight and still be a force to be reckoned with.

That is Clinton! That is Cross Hill! That is Joanna! That is Mountville! That is District 56 and all points in between! The latest evidence is the CHS Robotics Team winning the State VEX Championship in Charleston on Saturday, March 14.

The question is “Why and how is this possible?”

I think the answer is clear … we have a caring, committed, and concerned community. We have expectations for our students and a desire to see them succeed … not at a local level but at any level they so choose.

We have media outlets that stay concerned and tout the accomplishments of the students. We have churches that see the mission of the Gospel as “meeting the needs of people where they are.” We have citizens willing to pitch in and do their part to help in times of crisis. We have FAMILY! We are FAMILY!

I believe our teachers — all our employees — see our students as their children. Our bus drivers and cafeteria workers see our students as their children. And when you are a family, you come together when times get tough. You work together. You face AND overcome obstacles together.

I’m glad to be part of the family; how about you?


(Dr. David O’Shields is School District 56 Superintendent.)



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