Headmaster’s Newsletter

Update to Academy Families — February 28, 2022

Bell tower an flag
February 28, 2022

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


As we return from the much-needed Winter Break next week, we want to share some updates, plans, and hopes we have for the remainder of the year. 


The time between now and April Break is full of possibility—stress and joy alike. We know students and staff will work hard on Senior Capstones, dance choreography, science and art projects, CTE internships and skills competitions, spring sports, the musical, and on and on. What we see in May comes out of these critical weeks of good work. We are here to support, to challenge, and to cheer them on, and we know you are too.


Our focus in the past weeks has been on what Academy life should look like if, as we hope, the country emerges from the pandemic this spring. We all need to move beyond the restrictions that have been so isolating and hard on the community, and start gathering and connecting in person again as much as possible, while still remaining responsible. Some updates on that and more below.


Wednesday 3/2: return to school; Friday 3/4: Winter Carnival Redux. Please note that we will have regular classes on our first two days back, and then on Friday will hold the Winter Carnival events that were disrupted before break. 


Our 2022-2023 Calendar is available here.


COVID Response:


a. While the CDC has recently put out new guidance around masking, we continue to follow the guidelines set out by the Vermont Agency of Education for K-12 schools regarding mask wearing, contact tracing, and encouraging vaccination. Please send in your vaccination documentation if you haven’t yet—we are so close to the 80% that the state has cited as the threshold for more normalcy.


b. The Covid Response Team gathered before break to discuss a timeline for changes and loosening of restrictions, and agreed that we need to continue to follow the state’s lead. We will meet again soon after returning from break to reassess, hoping that there will be updated guidance.


c. We are very hopeful that with everyone’s help we will be able to revive, restore, or begin some of the following things:


  • Chapel—we want students back in Fuller Hall and South Church

  • Lunch in the dining hall

  • In-person concerts and Spring Musical with unmasked performers

  • Spring Day

  • All senior week and graduation events (Last Chapel, etc.)

  • Limited Hilltopper service, gradually opening to all


Meet the Teacher Conferences on March 31 and April 1. Teachers will meet with parents over Zoom on these two days by appointment—please take this opportunity to connect with your student’s teachers and share insights that will help them through the rest of the term.


Associate Head of School
I am delighted to share that after an international search, and with extraordinary community support, I have appointed our own John Lenzini to serve as the Associate Head of School starting this July. John is currently our Athletic Director, and has wide and rich experience in schools and business that matches the kind of work we’ll be doing in the coming years. Having him on our senior leadership team will be invaluable. Please join me in congratulating him.


Summer Courses
We are offering many academic and other enrichment opportunities this summer—further information will be available on our website soon.


Our priority is to truly get back together—to build new strength, health, and connection into this already strong and loving community. Whatever lessons we are learning from these two years, and there are many, we have learned the indispensable value of our relationships with one another. We look forward to getting us back into places and spaces where those relationships thrive.


Thank you as always for your partnership, and for trusting us here at St. Johnsbury Academy to be part of how your students grow and learn. With so many hard things happening in the world—including the recent invasion of Ukraine, which is not abstract for some of our families—we need to be taking good care with all members of the community, and will need your help to do that as well as we can.


Dr. Sharon Howell

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