HPS Highlights will highlight some of the many events and activities taking place across the district. These highlights are intended to celebrate what is happening in our schools and provide a window into our many programs across the district. This may include specific programs, student activities and professional staff development. 

March 14, 2018 "March for Our Lives" Information for Parents

Dear Family and Friends of Holland Public Schools,

As many of you have heard, the recent tragic events in Parkland, Florida have influenced planned national “walkouts” in schools across the country. These dates are set for March 14 and April 20, 2018. Given the momentum this movement has gained in a short time period, the HPS district administration has been meeting to discuss the best ways to support our students. We have also been seeking the guidance of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Public Safety in the City of Holland.

We recognize and honor constitutionally protected expressive activity of students which implicates the “free speech” clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At the same time, we recognize the need to ensure the safety of our students and to protect our learning environments from substantial disruption in accordance with our board policy and student code of conduct. We have been meeting with student leadership at Holland High School including the Student Senate and Students for Social Justice to engage them in the dialogue of how to safely respond to the invitation to participate, or not, in this nationally planned “walkout.” We are pleased to share mutual interest and concern for balancing a desire for student safety, a plan that can recognize student voice, and showing support and memoriam for the families deeply impacted by this tragic event.

On March 14, during the nationally planned time of 10:00-10:17 a.m., students at Holland High School/HVRT will have the opportunity to “walk out” of class in order to sign a banner of support for the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In addition, students will be able to take a moment of silent reflection in the memorial courtyard area of Holland High school and sign memorial banners for each of the seventeen students whose lives were lost. These banners will be sent to the school in Florida.  This is a voluntary activity of participation. All classes will continue in normal operation during this time. Holland Public Schools employees are not permitted to participate in this expressive activity, although supervision will be provided on an as needed basis by non-instructional staff. At 10:17 a.m. students will be asked to return promptly to their class.

This is the only “walkout” that is acknowledged by our school, as a time for students to share their thoughts and expressions. Any other date that involves leaving the classroom without permission/parent contact will be treated as appropriate in accordance with our student code of conduct. As a reminder, Holland Public does not have school on April 20, 2018.

During “Advisory” on March 14, students will participate in a persuasive writing lesson as part of our district curriculum. Students will learn and have the opportunity to apply the tenants of persuasive writing in the context of writing to elected officials at the local, state or national level.

At this time, we are not planning any specific activities at Maplewood, our K-7 schools or Holland Early College as there has not been any discussion of student activity at this time.

Please know that we continue to do everything that we can to keep our students safe at Holland Public Schools. Safety and security remain our number one priority.

I also want to take this opportunity to remind you of the State of Michigan’s “OK2SAY” program. This is a communication resource that allows students or others to anonymously report anything that threatens the safety of students. You can learn more about this at http://www.michigan.gov/ok2say/. As a “Be NICE” district, I also encourage you to take the Be NICE pledge as we notice, invite, challenge and empower! You can learn more at https://www.benice.org/.

If you have questions about the events of this day, or other safety concerns of our district, please feel free to contact me or your school’s principal.

Thank you,

Dr. Brian Davis

Recommendation before the Board of Education 2018-2019, February 27, 2018

The preparation:

Over the past several months the Board of Education and Administration have been clarifying and affirming our core values and beliefs; defining our needs and expected outcomes that our community has for us; preparing all of our students to be ready for college, careers and the community; assessing the critical shortage of affordable housing in the city of Holland and its impact on our community; studying the declining birth rates in our attendance areas and the aging demographics of our core city; surveying our parents on their needs, wishes and program evaluation; and recognizing the harsh reality of how schools are funded in the state of Michigan. This has led me to make this recommendation.

Before the recommendation, just a few facts:

  • Since 2000, HPS has been a deficit spending district for 12 fiscal years.
  • Our total Full Time Enrollment has declined 10% since 2012-2013 and 22% since 2006/2007. In five years it is likely that HPS will be a school district of approximately 3,000 students down from a high of over 5,500 before the onset of schools of choice and a change in funding under Proposal A.
  • Birth rates in the City of Holland have declined -22% and Park Township -35% since 1997...the two areas which define our attendance areas.
  • With respect to school funding, we are just now above the foundation grant/per student funding levels of 2008-2009 nearly a decade later, slow growth and funding from the state that is directly related to the classroom.
  • If the funding formula in the recently published Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative were in play, HPS would receive over $16M in additional funding annually; taking into consideration poverty, at-risk learners, second language learners and special education students. http://www.fundmischools.org/

Despite all of this, we continue to thrive in our programming and results. As you may be aware we celebrate:

  • Two Division I State Competitive Theatre Championships in 2018
  • Division II State Soccer Champions 2017
  • Award Winning Performing Arts Department with members from our choirs performing at Carnegie Hall this May, 2018
  • Defending World Champion/State Champion US First Robotics 
  • Recognized recently by the Michigan Department of Education Center for Education Performance as having the 2nd highest percentage of college graduates attending selective colleges in the Holland / Zeeland area
  • The area's only dedicated Early College High School program serving first generation college students leading to an Associate's Degree; tuition free to the student while in attendance at HPS
  • The area's only Two-Way Bilingual Immersion School that is thriving and growing
  • This year we launched a three-year engineering pathway program at Holland High School in partnership with Motus Integrated Technologies.
  • One of the area's only K-7 STEM programs
  • Our K-7 schools are all beating the odds and reaching high levels of literacy achievement despite our demographics of those who qualify for free/reduced lunch or do not speak English.
  • A learning community where students from nearly 40 countries speaking over 30 different languages come together to learn together.
  • And the list goes on...

How do we maintain this level of excellence without cutting programs?

We have to reduce duplication wherever possible, and right size the district. We have to utilize our spaces in the most effective/efficient manner possible. We have to reduce expenditures. We are no longer able to deficit spend. We have sold properties to balance our budget. We must now take decisive action. We must also listen to the feedback provided during the recent HPS parent survey.

On March 19, the HPS Board of Education is set to review and consider voting on the following recommendation.

  • The district will transition to a K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 program. Transitional Kindergarten will continue to be provided at our K-5’s.
  • Great Start Readiness Programs and Early Childhood Special Education will transition from Maplewood to our K-5 buildings. Maplewood ECC will continue to be leased to and serve the Head Start Program.
  • Holland Heights, Holland Language Academy, Jefferson and West will become K-5 schools.
  • East will become a 6-8 middle school.
  • Holland High School will be 9-12 serving the traditional programs that HHS is known for, in addition to the HVRT (alternative high school program) and the Holland Early College Program.

The following meetings have been set to learn more about this recommendation:

  • Thursday, March 1, 7:00 pm at East School, 373 East 24th Street
  • Tuesday, March 6, 7:00 pm at East School, 373 East 24th Street
  • Thursday, March 15, 9:00 am and 7:00 pm Holland Early College, 45 East 25th Street (Specifically for families of Holland Early College)

Board Recommendation Power Point Presentation for Parents

Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative

Dr. Brian Davis Participates on Professional Judgment Panel for Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative

The report has now been published. If this model were currently in place as recommended, HPS would receive over $16M in additional funds annually. 

In January, 2017, a bipartisan group of business and education experts launched a new effort to study school funding in Michigan-School Finance Research Collaborative. The purpose of this collaborative is to “bring together top industry experts to reexamine our approach to how we fund Michigan’s schools to fully prepare all students for jobs and success” and the mastery of the current standards required of our students in the state. This study is intended to build upon a report released in the summer of 2016. This 2016 report concluded that Michigan’s system of funding schools is becoming increasingly unequal and in equitable and that the state needs to allocate more funding to educate students who are socio-economically disadvantaged or not English dominant speakers.

Approaches to the Study

There are two approaches to the study: professional judgment and evidence-based. Each of these two approaches are briefly described below. I am pleased to share that I was asked to serve on one of the professional judgmental panels representing moderate sized school districts with identified high needs populations.

Professional Judgment Approach

The Professional Judgment approach relies on a series of educator panels to identify the resources needed to meet all Michigan standards. Panelists range from teachers to superintendents, and are brought together from all parts of the state and from all types of school districts and charter schools.

First, educators build a set of schools during the school-level panels. The school-level panels are designed to identify the resources any student should expect to have in place in any school in the state. Panelists first build the base-level resources, then identify resources for at-risk students. After the school-level panels set the base-level resources, special needs panels meet to review the base-level resources and identify the resources needed for special education, at-risk and ELL students.

These panels examine the impacts of various concentrations and different levels of student need. The panels examine the different levels of resources needed for mild, moderate and severe special needs students, literate versus illiterate at-risk students, and ELL students at different WIDA levels.

Four different district panels (very small, small, moderate, and large size districts), panels on charter schools and geographically isolated districts then meet to review all previous work, make adjustments to fit district size context, and identify the resources needed at the district level to ensure success at the school level.

Resources identified at the district level include district administrators, administrative costs, security and other central office needs. After the district-level panels are held, a statewide panel meets to review all work and finalize the resources for the Professional Judgment approach.

Evidence-Based Approach

The Evidence-Based approach generates a set of resources needed to implement a set of educational principles based on the best academic research on student success. These resources include those needed for all students to meet state educational standards, as well as additional resources for special education, at-risk and ELL students. Resources for students include instructional resources, such as teachers, and the social and emotional structures needed for student success. Social-emotional supports include social workers, counselors and other professional staff. Once the model resources are identified, educators from around Michigan will be asked to determine if the resources are adequate to meet the needs of Michigan students. Urban educators, including teachers and administrators, will be included in this process.

Task/Role

My task, with eight other individuals, was to identify the resources that districts and schools with a particular set of demographic characteristics should have in order to meet a specific set of “input” requirements and “output” objectives. Our work built upon four school-level professional judgment panels that were convened to design funding models for preschools, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools across the state of Michigan as described above. Four additional panels were then held to review the work of the school-level panels and address the resources needed for special education students, English Language Learners, students in poverty, and career technical education.  My panel’s role was to serve as a district-level panel to review the work of all prior panels, and then identify the resources required at the district level to supports schools in the district. The work from our panel will now be forwarded to a state-wide panel that will become the cumulative findings and basis for the School Finance Research Collaborative recommendations. The time-line for completion of the collaborative and public release is currently set for January, 2018.

Review of Michigan Standards and Requirements

There were a number of items that were considered as part of “input” requirements and “output” objectives. The following items were included in this work:

  • Minimum days and hours of instruction: Currently set at 180 days of instruction and 1,098 hours of pupil instruction
  • Flexible learning options such as: seat-time waivers, hours/days waivers, work-based learning experiences, college course enrollment, early/middle colleges, career and technical education options, testing out options and personal curriculum
  • Early Literacy Initiative: Focused on increasing the early literacy skills of students through MDE’s Early Literacy Initiative by providing high quality instruction to all students, progress monitoring, and strategic interventions with research-based strategies when students fall behind. Engaging and supporting parents in age-appropriate early literacy development is the foundation for this achievement.
  • “Third Grade Reading Law”: Enacted in October, 2016, House Bill 4822 establishes requirements to provide assistance to students to “help ensure that more pupils will achieve a score of at least proficient in English language arts on the grade 3 assessment.”
  • Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC): Districts must ensure that any student who entered grade 8 during or after the 2005-2006 school year and wishes to receive a high school diploma from a public school must meet the requirements of the MMC. Michigan Common Standards define the requirements within each of the core academic areas.
  • Awarding of Credits: Based on a student’s demonstration that he/she has successfully met the content expectations for the credit area.
  • Educational Development Plan (EDP): Used to assist students in identifying career development goals as the relate to academic requirements.
  • College and Career Ready Skills: The skills necessary to earn a self-sustaining wage and participate in postsecondary opportunities without remediation.
  • Implementation of the Recommendations to the Career Pathway Alliance by executive order of State Superintendent Brian J. Whiston on June 26, 2017.
  • Michigan Assessments: Review of all of the current state required assessments including; early literacy and mathematics benchmark (K-2) assessments, M-STEP, PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, Michigan Merit Exam (MME), MI-Acccess, W-APT (WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test) and WIDA ACCES for Early Language Learners
  • Michigan District and School Accountability: Annual accountability requirements including Michigan Top-to-Bottom School Rankings.
  • Educator Evaluations
  • Administrator Evaluations
  • Additional ELL Requirements
  • Title III-Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students
  • Michigan English Language Proficiency Standards
  • Common Statewide Entrance and Exit Protocols
  • Additional Special Education Requirements
  • Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) with related Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Federal Regulations
  • Standards for Extended School Year Services (ESY) in Michigan

What I learned

In this two-day process I was affirmed of the passion and dedication that our public education employees across this state have for their profession, their communities, and most of all the children that they serve. It also became even more apparent to me the inequities that exist in our current funding model and the lack of resources available to meet the current legislated demands on our schools for all students to achieve the success defined. It is my hope that my involvement in this process not only represents Holland Publics Schools well, but all districts across the state as we continue to provide high quality education regardless of class, culture or community.

 

 

Michigan's New Parent Dashboard for School Transparency

Information for Parents, School and Community Leaders

Michigan has adopted a new way to provide transparency about its public schools and how well they are performing.

The brand new online “Parent Dashboard” shows the performance of every public school in Michigan, including public school academies—also known as charter schools. It will become public on January 9, 2018 following a presentation to State Board of Education.

Families and others can use the dashboard to compare a school’s performance with the average performance of other similar Michigan schools.

The creation of an easy-to-use Parent Dashboard is rooted in the belief that all Michigan residents deserve to know how well public education is serving our state’s children.

What’s the Dashboard all about?

After the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, states were given the opportunity to revise their accountability systems to improve their schools and ensure that students are prepared with all the learning and skills they need for their future.

In Michigan, literally thousands of stakeholders called for information that was easier to understand and that relied on more than just state test scores.

That’s why in 2017, Michigan’s State Board of Education called for a parent-friendly dashboard that can show a more complete picture of school performance.

While it’s not part of Michigan’s formal Accountability plan under ESSA, the Parent Dashboard complements other state and federal reporting to give parents and communities clear answers about measures that matter to them.

Who created the Parent Dashboard?

The Parent Dashboard was created by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), in collaboration with the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), for parents and other caregivers who are interested in learning more about schools at the building level.

Parents and other people interested in education played a big role in the planning and design of the dashboard throughout the process. Parent feedback will continue to be gathered and used for future phases of the dashboard.

How can parents use the new Dashboard?

Developers wrote and designed the dashboard to meet two major needs described by parents:

  • I want to improve the way my child learns and the ability of his or her school to serve our family.
  • I want an easier way to research schools where my child is likely to attend.

Families and others also can use the dashboard to compare any school’s performance with the average performance of other similar Michigan schools.

What is included in the Parent Dashboard?

  • The Parent Dashboard is filled with important school-level information that parents and others are interested in knowing about their child’s public schools.
  • The new dashboard is a user-friendly tool that reports on nearly 20 different factors—or measures—that parents and other stakeholders have said are important to them when evaluating the quality of a school.

Phase 1 includes the following measures:


SCHOOL OVERVIEW DATA

  • State assessment performance

  • State assessment progress

  • Graduation rate

  • Advanced Coursework (e.g. Advanced Placement, early middle college, International Baccalaureate (IB), dual enrollment, career/technical education postsecondary enrollment

  • On-track attendance

  • English Learner progress

  • Assessment participation

ADDITIONAL DATA


School
  • Student/staff ratio
  • Student support staff
Student
  • Transfers in and out
  • Expulsion rate
  • Dropout rate
  • Attendance rate
  • Graduates proficient on the SAT (coming Feb/March 2018)
  • Postsecondary
    • Enrollment
    • Persistence
    • Completion

Phases 2 and 3 will include new measures (proposed):

  • Access to fine arts, music, physical education and library media specialists
  • Early learning access
  • Before- and after-school programming
  • Wraparound services
  • Access to technology
  • Services for students with disabilities
  • Services for English learners
  • Financial reporting
  • Climate/culture surveys
  • Extracurricular opportunities
  • Presence of recess

Where does the information come from to populate the dashboard?

  • Most information included in the dashboard comes from data that are already collected from schools.
  • The Dashboard pulls data from existing state records.
  • Future phases of the dashboard will contain some new data that Michigan has never before collected from schools. Workgroups have been convened to discuss ideas for how to best collect new information.

Why a dashboard?

  • The Parent Dashboard resulted in part from stakeholder input during Michigan’s planning for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and is an essential component in Michigan’s plan to become a Top 10 education state.
  • The easy-to-use Parent Dashboard allows every parent and caregiver to view and understand school information.
  • The information in the Dashboard can inform decisions and encourage richer conversations about school progress—with their kids, with other parents, with school leaders, and within their communities.
  • Users say the dashboard is easier to understand and offers a more balanced picture of school quality than MDE's former school scorecard, which assigned each school one of five colors based on student performance.

Where does this tool fit within Michigan’s overall accountability system?

  • The Parent Dashboard is Michigan’s newest tool in its commitment to provide transparency concerning school and district performance.
  • The Parent Dashboard was designed specifically with the needs of parents in mind. Parent input and ideas for improvements played a big role during the development of this new tool.
  • The Parent Dashboard complements other state accountability tools such as the School Report Card (required by Federal ESSA law) and financial data reporting (required by Michigan law).

Can I provide input or suggest improvements?

  • Yes! The dashboard is designed to be a “living tool” that will be updated as new school data becomes available, including additional measures.
  • Broad feedback will help shape the current and future versions of the dashboard so that it is helpful to parents in every community.
  • The current version of the Dashboard represents Phase One of a three-phase process.
  • The Michigan Department of Education’s Parent Dashboard information page (www.michigan.gov/MDE-ParentDashboard) offers more detail.
  • Links within the dashboard allow users to provide input for future improvements or revisions. Users can also provide feedback by emailing MDE-ParentDashboard@michigan.gov.

MDE Seeks Parent Feedback on Proposed School Transparency Dashboard

October 31, 2017

Parents and caregivers of children from preschool through Grade 12 are invited to provide feedback on Michigan’s online “school transparency dashboard,” the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today. The online dashboard is designed to show the performance of every public school in Michigan.

The user-friendly dashboard will display more than 20 different measures that parents and other stakeholders have said are important to them when evaluating the quality of a school.

“We want this important school information tool to be understandable, clear, and easy for parents to use,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “I encourage parents to take this survey, look at the proposed dashboard, and share their thoughts with us.”

The survey allows participants to view components of the new dashboard, then answer questions about the way information is presented; the usefulness of certain features; and viewers’ unique interests. MDE will use survey feedback to help shape the current and future versions of the dashboard so that it is helpful to parents in every community.

Click the link below or type the survey URL into your web browser to access the online survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MDEESSA_Dashboard2017

The survey can be completed on any computer, tablet, or mobile device. It should take no more than 15 minutes to complete, and all answers will be confidential. The survey will remain open until November 15, 2017.

The transparency dashboard resulted, in part, from stakeholder input during Michigan’s planning for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is an essential component in Michigan’s plan to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years.

A State Board of Education policy, adopted June 14, 2017, outlines the desired metrics for Michigan’s new transparency dashboard and identifies a timeline and process for development.

The Transparency Dashboard is expected to be made available to the public by early 2018 and will replace MDE's former school report card.

You can find more detail in the State Board of Education’s June 14, 2017 policy, which can be found online at the MDE website at www.michigan.gov/mde. Click on State Board of Education in the left column and then “Policies and Statements.”

The Big Read 2017

The Book and Partnering Schools

You are cordially invited to join in The Big Read Holland Area?s 2017 program featuring the book When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. The Big Read is a month-long community-wide reading program consisting of book discussions, lectures, art workshops, film screenings and more, taking place during the month of November. A key component of the program is K-16 student involvement. This year The Big Read is working with four schools in our district: Holland Early College, Holland High, Holland Language Academy, and Holland East. We have distributed 573 free copies of the book to students and have hired either professional artist(s) Joel Schoon-Tanis or Barry Elz to work with our students to collaborate on art in response to the book.

The Partnership

The Big Read is a Hope College program in collaboration with Herrick District Library, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, Howard Miller Library, Holland Museum, Ready for School, Western Theological Seminary, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Holland Area Arts Council, and cultureWorks. Last year’s Big Read Holland Area events involved approximately 10,000  people in the community.

Keynote Speaker

Julie Otsuka will be the keynote speaker at Hope College's Dimnent Chapel at 7 pm on November 9. Otsuka's historical fiction tells the story of a family and their journey to a Japanese internment camp in the 1940s. The novel follows a mother, father, daughter, and son, giving a different perspective to a part of American history often ignored.

Calendar of Events

A list of all of main events and public book discussions is available on the website hope.edu/bigread. On November 16, the signature closing event will be a student exhibition of learning at the Holland Armory.

Celebrating Holland Public Schools Athletics-October 27, 2017

It has been an exciting past few days for Holland High Athletics!

Cross Country-After a great showing this season, our guys tied for the OK Green Cross Country Champions at the cross country conference meet on October 18, 2017. Their next stop is the MHSAA Regionals this Saturday at Portage West MS at 12:30 p.m. Our girls will race at 11:30 a.m. and all JV runners at 1:00 p.m. Good luck to all of our runners!

Boys Soccer-As you may have seen, these guys are on Holland Dutch fire. With a 5-0 victory over Holland Christian, an 8-0 victory over Reeths-Puffer and a 2-0 victory over Grand Rapids Christian (District 2 Regional champs), their next stop is the state semifinals at 7:00 p.m. (Wednesday, 11/1) at Portage Northern facing the Region 5 winner TBD this Saturday. 

UPDATE: Our Boys Soccer-Los Dutch went on to become the Michigan High School Division 2 State Champions!

Boys Football-For the third time in school history, our Holland Dutch have made the playoffs and head to Hackley field to face the Big Reds of Muskegon at 7:00 tonight. The HHS Marching Band, Cheerleaders, a fan bus and 1/2 of the town driving North, it is sure to be a great night for our guys. It's a white out...but no snow day today! (Sorry)

Volleyball/Swimming-MHSAA Districts for Girls' Volleyball is next week at Zeeland East and the OK Green Girls’ Varsity Swimming Prelims are next week at Byron Center. Good luck to all of our Lady Dutch!

Thank you to our parents, volunteers, coaching staff, Dutch Nation, students and faculty for supporting all of our student athletes. 

Check out www.hollanddutchsports.com for more information.

1st Amendment Clarity

An opportunity to learn, listen and reflect on student initiated expressive activity

October 2, 2017

Conduct like wearing a black arm band, taking a knee, refusing to stand during the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance, or refusing to recite the pledge, implicates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it is “expressive activity” protected by the “free speech” clause. Students do not shed their First Amendment right to freedom of speech when they attend school or school-sponsored events, Tinker v Des Moines Indep Cmty Sch Dist, 393 US 503 (1969). The U.S. Supreme Court in Tinker explicitly stated that whether a student is in a classroom or “on the playing field,” the student may express his or her opinions, even on controversial subjects. The Supreme Court also held that students have a First Amendment Right to not salute the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance, West Virginia State bd of Educ v Barnette, 319 F3d 172 (CA 3, 2004).

A school’s authority to discipline or censor a student for his or her speech, including expressive activity, is limited to situations where a school official reasonably believes that the speech will substantially and materially interfere with schoolwork, discipline, or infringe on the rights of other students. School officials must show a “substantial disruption” or a reasonable forecast of a substantial disruption to justify imposing discipline on a student for his or her speech.

The District believes that patriotism and love of country should be encouraged and celebrated in school activities as reflected in our school policies. As a school district we remain committed to upholding the law and protecting our student’s constitutional rights, while maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment for our students. While events like those at Friday's game may seem like these ideals are in opposition to each other, they are, in fact, democracy in action.

Last Friday, September 29, 2017, our Holland High School cheerleaders took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. These actions did not create a disruption and, as defined above, were within their constitutional rights. The cheerleaders, by their actions, acted independently from the district. However, a brief review of comments on social media as well as the emails and phone calls that have been received by our administration, illustrates the differences of opinion on this topic.  It is important that we acknowledge these differences of opinion and emotion. This provides an opportunity for all of us to learn more, understand more and perhaps even talk more and listen to each other.

Over the course of time, a lot of things have filtered down from professional sports to high school sports. We have learned about the importance of scholarship and sportsmanship. We have learned about health/safety and concussions and ways to keep our athletes safe. Most recently, we have learned about individuals exercising one’s freedom of expression.

Some will defend that high school sports is not the venue for this discussion and the push and pull of national politics. Others will counter that students have the full rights under the First Amendment as adults to express what they believe. The reality is, students today are much more in tune to politics and what is happening around them; more so than when I was in high school. Our students are very concerned about their country, their schools, and their community. They are aware of the civil unrest and challenges to equality. They seek to make a difference and be a voice for those who may not have one. They seek to find appropriate ways to learn more and share more from and with each other.

As part of our ongoing work in the district, our Student Senate has developed the Dutch Matrix. Diverse, United, Thrive, Committed and Honorable; these words represent the framework as we seek to create a culture and climate where all students are able to experience success in our schools. This matrix is in alignment with our District Strategic Plan. In this plan there are several core beliefs; one of which it is our collective responsibility to champion the prosperity of ALL students regardless of culture, class or community. We adopted these core beliefs recognizing that our students need to be college capable, career ready and life ready recognizing the life skills needed to be productive citizens in a global learning community.

I believe in our students at Holland Public Schools. I am most appreciative of the effort that many are engaged in as part of our Student Senate to lead the work in creating a culture and community where all students will be united in their diversity where they can thrive through honorable and committed actions. Our students are our future leaders of civic discourse, civic engagement and perhaps even civic leadership. They will be increasingly involved in this discussion representing many different perspectives.

It is my hope that we take this opportunity to listen to each other, learn from one another, and focus our efforts and energy on the difficult work ahead of us as a country and perhaps even our own community. In the end, high school sports both in practice and competition should bring us together and not lead us further apart. 

Dr. Brian Davis, Superintendent of Schools