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Manhattan Beach Superintendent: Stay Focused on Community, Shared Goals

Sep 11, 2021 05:13AM ● By John Bowes
As we ended school last June, restrictions were being eased and increasing rates of vaccination were promising signs for the type of 2021-22 school year we were all hoping for.

While current trends may not put us where we had hoped to be, we could not be more excited to have our students back on campus, and we know they are excited to be back with their friends and teachers. Our priority is to make sure that students are able to continue to attend school in person, with a focus on regular daily instruction.

With the many community activities, sporting competitions, holiday celebrations, and other events taking place that make Manhattan Beach such a great town, we are asking all Manhattan Beach community members to consider the different individual and shared health and safety actions we can all implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to help ensure that our students can continue to come to school in person each and every school day.

I visited New York City to see friends not long after the events of 9/11, and it was devastating to see the remains of those destructive events, even months after the terrorist attacks that shook our nation to its core. I have spent some time reflecting on that difficult day. I am sure that everyone who is old enough can remember exactly where we were and how we felt on September 11, 2001. It was a terrible time as we learned that nearly 3,000 people died when the four hijacked commercial planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Through the tragedy, though, our communities and our country came together to remember and support the victims, their families, and the many heroic first responders and ordinary citizens who were on the front lines that day.  

It is often in times of crisis that we remember that we are stronger when we come together, and this week, 20 years after the tragic events of 9/11, we remind ourselves of this lesson.

Last Thursday evening, I was joined by our elementary principals at the dedication ceremony of the newly installed Peace Pole at the Manhattan Beach Civic Center Plaza. The Peace Pole is a symbol that signifies a community’s hopes for peace on earth. It is an internationally-recognized symbol of hope and unity, and its installation was organized by Stand4Peace with the help of Mira Costa High School Principal Karina Gerger, in her prior role as principal at Pennekamp Elementary School. The Peace Pole displays the phrases, “may peace be in your homes,” “may peace be in your schools,” “may peace be in your communities,” and “may peace prevail on earth.” The Manhattan Beach Peace Pole is one of 250,000 poles that have been installed around the world.

It was a powerful experience to see our principals, our city, and our community come together to celebrate the Peace Pole’s dedication and to pledge to support World Peace Day on September 21, 2021.

Manhattan Beach is a wonderful place to live and work and I know that, together, we will be able to help each child grow academically, socially, and emotionally. There is great promise ahead for MBUSD in the 2021-22 school year, and I am grateful to be a part of this community!

John Bowes is superintendent of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. Tune in to the next MBUSD Regular Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, September 22 at 5:00 p.m. to learn more about masking, testing, and vaccination updates in MBUSD.

DigMB Editor Jeanne Fratello is in Italy as a guest of an Italian tomato growers' consortium through her blog Jolly Tomato. A series of Manhattan Beach guest columnists will fill in for her until she returns.

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