School notes: Upper Arlington continues work on diversity, honoring Litchford family
I can’t believe it’s already February.
This month, we celebrate Black History Month and the significant contributions made to central Ohio as well as our entire country.
In Upper Arlington Schools, we are committed to keeping our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of all we do now and in the future.
An important part of that is updating our local history curriculum, taught at the third-grade level. We have been working with a team of volunteers to expand this curriculum so that it focuses on local history from 1800 to the present and will include the history of Pleasant Litchford and others who made significant contributions in Perry Township before it became Upper Arlington. We look forward to introducing this expanded curriculum later this school year.
We also are continuing to work with descendants of Pleasant Litchford and other community volunteers to determine the next steps for honoring the history of the Litchford family cemetery site adjacent to the current Upper Arlington High School building.
Litchford was one of the Black Americans who made significant contributions to central Ohio in the 1800s. He was a master blacksmith who had been enslaved in Virginia. After buying his own freedom and settling in the area that is now Upper Arlington, he built a successful business and purchased the land that now is home to the high school as well as Northam Park and Tremont Elementary School.
He also established a school for African-American children and was a founding member of the historic Second Baptist Church, which provided an important voice in the anti-slavery movement.
This month we have much to be hopeful for with the arrival of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines and the continuation of vaccinations for the medical workers, nursing home staff and senior citizens.
In the Upper Arlington Schools, we are grateful that those working in education are among the groups that state leaders have prioritized for vaccination. It is an acknowledgement of the importance of education in our state and our community. We take seriously the responsibility of this blessing and will use it to ensure the best experiences possible for all our students.
We also are closely monitoring the data on COVID-19 cases in our community and the effect on our schools. We continue to meet with our Medical Advisory Team, a group of local public health and infectious disease experts, to review this data and emerging information about the virus.
I’m sure many in our community have seen more activity around our schools since the start of January. We were excited to welcome our school-based students back to school in an enhanced hybrid-learning model following winter break.
This learning model provides for more teacher-guided learning and support for our students each week while also maintaining the health and safety precautions we’ve had in place. We also have approximately 800 students learning in our UA Online Academy, our entirely digital learning option for this school year.
I want to share an exciting step for our school district. This fall, for the 2021-2022 school year, we will be launching a new all-day kindergarten program.
Members of the board of education strongly believes in all-day kindergarten, and they believe it will better meet the needs of our developing learners so they are able to learn and grow academically, socially and emotionally.
Our elementary schools have been holding virtual kindergarten information nights for incoming kindergarten families in preparation for the opening of the kindergarten registration window Feb. 8. You can learn more about all-day kindergarten and the registration process on our website, uaschools.org.
We look forward to welcoming these students in August.
Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. Follow him on Twitter @imhoffpual. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.