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It is exciting to have all of you back at ETHS. As you know, ETHS has not been fully opened since March 13, 2020. Welcome freshmen and sophomores. You will have your first full experience of walking these hallways with all your classmates. Welcome juniors. You experienced only seven months in your school during your freshman year. You’re back! And seniors, what can I say? We’ve missed you. Staff, thank you for your steadfastness and sacrifice during this pandemic. I am thrilled that all of us are back here at our beloved ETHS for a more recognizable Wildkit experience this year.
Our lives have been hugely disrupted by disaster, a global pandemic. Members of our own ETHS family and community have lost jobs and businesses. Many have lost their homes, their health and even their lives. Our ETHS family has experienced so much loss. And during this same time, our country has been in turmoil with violence against Black people and Asian & Pacific Islander people, with hate crimes against people based on their identity. It has been a harsh and disturbing time. But it’s important for you to know that ETHS embraces your humanity. We hear our Black and Latinx communities, our Asian and Indigenous communities, our Muslim and Jewish communities. We hear you, we see you and we embrace all of who you are. Embrace one another.
You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.
Fortunately, even from disaster can come good. As Maya Angelou reminds us, we have our humanity, our common purpose to make ourselves and our world better, to persist. Thankfully, we are all back together where we can support and care for one another. Aug. 16 marks a new beginning for ETHS. You will not only notice changes in the building and in the school day structure, but you will also notice changes in each other. We’ve experienced, we’ve learned, we’ve hurt, we’ve celebrated, we’ve grown. We now have a chance to come together to strengthen our humanity, to become stronger because we have each other.
Here is my hope for all of us this year. I hope we will each reaffirm our humanity. I hope we will build a stronger school community together, building on the past success and traditions of ETHS while making ETHS a far better school with this new beginning, a school immersed in love and compassion for each other. My hope is that each of you gives abundant love and feels abundant love that makes us fully human. You belong here. Embrace your own humanity and be here for others. That’s what it means to be a Wildkit, to be in a school where we care deeply about each other.
Have a wonderful school year. Yes, I love and care about you. It’s a great day to be a Wildkit.
The above article by ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon was published in the Evanstonian, the student newspaper, on the first day of the 2021-22 school year Aug. 16, 2021.