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Keeping up with the Riders

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

Teachers might have a sort of superpower. Caesar Rodney High School principal Sherry Kijowski described it as professional people-watching skills. She said teachers can pick up a hum in the building, a vibe, and they care deeply about their students.

“All of us who became educators, that connection is really important,” Kijowski said. “That’s why we do what we do.”

Now separated by distance and learning remotely, she said teachers are learning how to connect in a different way. They’re meeting one-on-one with their students, using phone calls or online portals like Schoology to check-in.

“I think it’s a pretty powerful reminder that we’re educating the whole kids,” she said. “I’m not just concerned with how you’re doing academically.”

Over the past week, the high school students saw some of their teachers or principals in a drive-thru. They could return textbooks or school materials, pick up anything they left behind in a locker and get yearbooks. Seniors picked up caps and gowns.

“I’ve had a lot of staff members volunteer to help with the process,” Kijowski said. “It’s been good for the kids to see us, and it’s been good for us to see the kids.” About 60 staff members volunteered to visit seniors as they dropped off graduation yard signs.

These brief, socially distant encounters may have kindled a sense of community, but social media has helped it catch on. The high school has been sharing posts and running creative campaigns on Facebook and Instagram to honor the senior class.

For example, every senior was encouraged to decorate their front door with memorabilia from high school and share the photo.

“It’s a way to celebrate and create some different kind of memories,” Kijowski said.

Every day, the social media accounts highlight 10 seniors by sharing their portraits, quotes and post-graduation plans. Students can submit their information at this link: https://tinyurl.com/crhsvfb.

During the first week of June, Caesar Rodney Senior Week, there will be special social media posts. Students can send pictures to sherry.kijowski@cr.k12.de.us.

  • Monday, June 1: All In Day! What clubs, activities, and teams were you in?
  • Tuesday, June 2: So Long Ago! What are some of your best memories from elementary and middle school?
  • Wednesday, June 3: Lights on for CRHS Seniors. We encourage everyone in the Rider community to turn on their porch lights at 8 p.m. to show our support and love for the Class of 2020! Take a ride around town and see the community’s support for you.
  • Thursday, June 4: Throwback Thursday / Favorite CRHS Memory Day
  • Friday, June 5: #crhsproud! Tell us something that makes you proud to have graduated from Caesar Rodney High School.

Other celebrations

  • Class of 2020 tribute video, scheduled on YouTube June 6.
  • Electronic billboard: Mark and Ruby Schaeffer donated electronic billboard space near the Royal Farms on Route 10 to the class of 2020. Senior photos will be there through the end of the school year.

Graduation

Caesar Rodney High School is holding out for an in-person graduation ceremony.

“As a community, the tradition of walking and graduating in Rider stadium is very important,” principal Sherry Kijowski said.

The tentative date is July 25, rain date Aug. 1. The dates coincide with the scheduled opening and closing of the Delaware State Fair. Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald is hopeful.

“Our school board is still committed to providing our seniors a live graduation in our stadium, so they have the opportunity to cross the field of Rider stadium at least one more time,” he said.

With 477 graduates, it’s possible to spread people out or limit spectators, but everything depends on the latest guidance from the Division of Public Health and CDC, he said.

“We’re going to try and do what we can to give our students something as close to normal and as special as we can,” he said.

Karen Jordan, senior vice president of PepsiCo and Caesar Rodney High alum, is slated as the speaker.