By Mimi Jones, CSPA President 2020-2021

The 2020-2021 school year began in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with ample uncertainty and concern for what lay ahead. However, our community was cautiously optimistic that things would soon turn around. The first day of school started with remote learning but within a few short weeks, our students were able to return to campus for in-person learning.

While parents were grateful and relieved that the children were able to return to in-person learning, the CSPA had to find innovative ways to keep our community connected during a time when in-person gatherings were not possible at school. Our parent volunteers leading various committees were a huge help in tackling this challenge.

We implemented a school-wide digital family photo directory where families included photos, shared their contact info, and some fun facts about themselves. This tool was highly praised by all and especially new families who didn’t know the other families but could at least learn a little about them through the directory.

Our Committees and Room Parents did a fantastic job creating meaningful ways to keep our community engaged. The Community Events Committee hosted a virtual ice cream social and a virtual community Bingo night. The Bingo night was a huge hit. Families had so much fun and many Amazon/Jamba Juice gift cards were awarded that night. The Sustainability Committee’s efforts led The Carey School to win the Trex Thin Plastics Challenge after our community collected a total of 522 pounds of plastics! Families participated in Walkfest by walking in their neighborhoods or nearby trails. The Walkfest Committee tracked the students’ laps through an app that allowed the children to see how many laps they and their friends had accumulated. The Health and Wellness Committee facilitated events to keep our minds and bodies calm with virtual Yoga classes and a panel discussion with mental health experts on the mental health effects of the pandemic on our community and children. The Room Parents successfully curated some entertaining events such as virtual cocktail/mocktail mixology classes, virtual paint and pour parties, and even a drive-in movie night. Our virtual CSPA meetings had the highest attendance in CSPA history.

Carey’s commitment to service did not waver even in a pandemic. The Caring at Carey committee and our community assembled and distributed Halloween Kits to children in the LifeMoves’ interim shelters, we also cooked and delivered meals to families at the shelters, we prepared over 100 care packages for local firefighters and collected new underwear, socks and diapers for 160 children in need.

The community’s immense gratitude for the incredible job the administration, faculty, and staff were doing was expressed through the efforts of our Faculty and Staff Appreciation Committee (FAC). The FAC dropped off treats, delivered electronic gift cards, and coordinated customized signage of appreciation. During Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week, the FAC planned daily surprises consisting of small gifts, lunches, movie packs, spa kits, and more.

At the Auction in March, the Carey community truly expressed our appreciation by supporting the Above and Beyond Fund to honor our incredible faculty and staff. It’s no surprise that such an important Fund a Need would produce a record-setting year for the Auction with the largest FAN in school history raising $500,700.

All things considered this school year was a tremendous success for The Carey School. We were able to achieve what so many schools around the country struggled to do by providing safe in-person learning for the entire school. Our community demonstrated its strength by working together and supporting each other through hard times. The school year ended on a high note with an in-person graduation ceremony for our fifth graders which was a gratifying win for students, families, and our phenomenal faculty and staff who made it possible.