An Open Letter to Talawanda High School Students

Pride.  Integrity.  Excellence.  Three words that we would see every school day on the walls of Talawanda High if we were there.  Oh those walls; I miss them.  Not as much as I miss seeing all of you in person though.  Catching you making TikToks by the 400 wing window sill.  Watching you jam at coffee houses.  Cheering you on at your games.  Seeing the light bulbs of your minds go off during class discussions.  Impromptu saxophone serenades in room 417.  Your laughter…

Oh you know I miss the laughter.  I cannot wait for the first Zoom meeting where all the students are laughing about the same thing at the same time.

My heart breaks for the ninth graders who don’t get to start their first year of high school at 5301 University Park Blvd.

My heart aches for the seniors whose last first day of high school will be done virtually.  Class of 2021 please know that the teachers and administrators of THS know how hard this is for you.  

I worry about the juniors who are starting the most academically rigorous year of high school online.  I hope that they know that they can reach out to teachers and counselors and that it is going to be okay.


My eyes well up with tears thinking about all the sophomores that I won’t see face-to-face, especially the ones who were my life raft last spring.  The ones, who as ninth graders, showed up daily in our first remote learning experiment and wrote like their lives depended upon it.  The ones who exemplified those three words pride, integrity, and excellence even though the pandemic hit our shores and our lives changed overnight.

Even though we won’t stand in the rotunda looking at those three words on the bricks of Talawanda, I want all of us to not only remember them, but to embody them, while we continue to be together, yet apart:


It’s the satisfaction you feel when you or your community achieves.  It is confidence and regard for self and for those with whom you associate. Take pride in being a part of the THS virtual learning community.  This means showing up to scheduled learning opportunities with a positive attitude. It means giving grace to your classmates whose life circumstances make it difficult for them to learn remotely.  It means putting forth the effort to create quality work.  To have meaningful remote seminars.  To ask good questions.  To reach out to share your skills and talents with your peers.  Get involved.  Be a helper.


Means having principles and working daily to follow your moral compass.  Learning remotely means that you will be assuming a lot of responsibility for your own learning.  It also means that you won’t be in physical classroom spaces with adult eyes constantly on you.  The judge of our character is what we do when we think that no one is looking.  Strive to be honest, kind, forgiving, and helpful.  Treat your classmates with respect in virtual meetings.  Never use a Zoom as an opportunity to bully or poke fun of someone.  Do your own work to the best of your ability.  In the words of the great, retired THS teacher Mr. John Meece:  “There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing.”


Is being outstanding in quality.  It means being your best self and setting, pursuing, and achieving goals.  It means doing things well.  However, to achieve excellence we have to have our needs met first. 

We need sleep.  

Even though you don’t have to get to 5301 University Park Blvd. this quarter, you still have to get up early for synchronous learning opportunities.  Get and keep a schedule that allows you to get sleep.

We need nourishment.

If you or someone you know is in need of food, please email any THS staff member.  You and/or your family can also get food from the Fall Food Program (see flyer below).  

We need to monitor our physical and mental health.

If you are in need of mental or physical health services please email any THS administrator or counselor.  We are living in some very stressful times.  Please reach out for help.

Take time away from the screens.  Go outside if you can.  Draw.  Read.  Listen to music.  Go for a walk or run.  

We need social connection.

Reach out to family, friends, and classmates.  Join a remote extracurricular.  Be present and in the moment for your synchronous learning opportunities and laugh with your teachers and classmates.  If you need help making social connections reach out to any THS staff member.  We can help you find an activity that will introduce you to some awesome people.

Talawanda students, I wish you a great start to the new school year.  May you strive daily for pride, integrity, and excellence in your remote learning classrooms.  I sure am proud of each and every one of you.


Ms. Weatherwax a.k.a Waxy