Update to Academy Families — September 3, 2021

Bell tower an flag
September 3, 2021

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


At the end of our first full week of school, it sounds like we’re getting into some welcome routine, and I think everyone is ready for the long weekend to regroup. Before you disperse, I have just a few small updates, and a request.


The COVID Response Team has been working hard to adjust to the fact of the Delta variant, including taking a different approach to morning Chapel—for the moment, advisories will livestream Chapel from Fuller Hall, while students have class meetings outdoors in the amphitheater Tuesday through Friday—wearing masks. We’re very conscious that while we are not required to physically distance, we still want to limit large gatherings with people seated together. The CDC advises against assemblies, which seems like good sense to us, too.


One topic in the past week’s Chapel talks has been the history and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, the saying of which in Chapel is an Academy tradition that we will resume starting next Tuesday. Mr. Eaton talked about the surprising history of the pledge, and the constitutional issues that pertain to saying pledges, modeling the kind of inquiry that we would like students to undertake when faced with an important question. I talked this morning about my hope that the ritual might be one of the many things that we do to unify ourselves as a community—knowing that we will also continue to seek to understand the meaning of our traditions and how they contribute to our mission.


A few other important items:

  • We have cancelled our 9/16 Meet the Teachers and 9/24 Resident Parents’ Weekend events. We decided, given our COVID situation, that it would be wiser not to host in-person events whose purpose is gathering and socializing—and that may need to be held indoors. We hope you’ll find other opportunities to connect with teachers virtually or in person this fall semester such as our Zooms with teachers scheduled for October 28th and 29th.

  • Lunch is free again this year—so no need to put money on lunch accounts. Students still have to pay for extras beyond a reimbursable meal or snacks in the café, but standard lunch and breakfast are still free.

  • I’ve mentioned that Vermont has given schools a goal of 80% of students vaccinated, and that we are eager to get to that goal for everyone’s sake. Two requests related to this:

  1. Please help your student get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccine is free and can be obtained in numerous clinics and pharmacies in and around St. Johnsbury.

  2. Please share students’ vaccination cards with the Health Center—we need to see those proofs of vaccination in order to count students toward our goal. Please bring or send a copy of the card to the Health Center as soon as you can.

  3. For questions about either of these requests please be in touch with Sarah Garey at sgarey@stjacademy.org.

  • Thanksgiving Break: we’ve decided for a number of reasons to make our Thanksgiving break the full week of the 22nd through the 26th, rather than just those three days. I gather the full week was customary, but we changed last year because of COVID. Please adjust your calendars, and we will change this on our calendar.


The new turf field with lights is now officially ready for play—and we are eager to watch Football, Field Hockey, and Boys’ and Girls’ soccer teams all playing on Fairbanks Field. The official celebration will be during Homecoming on October 23rd, but in late-breaking news, our very first game on the turf will be varsity Girls’ Soccer, this afternoon at 4:30. Please come out and cheer them on—good luck, girls!


With many thanks as always,

Dr. Sharon Howell

Related News