APPLEGATE: Niles Community Schools gives thanks to school community, partners

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2021

As the weather cools and the days become shorter, we know that winter is nearly upon us. With it, comes the holiday season and an opportunity to express thankfulness. As I do every year, I encourage our students, families, teachers and staff to take a moment to reflect on what they are grateful for and share it with those that need to hear it. For me, it is always our incredible school community and community partners that deserve to hear the thanks and praise.

School districts succeed through their community’s strength, dedication and support, and Niles Community Schools is no exception. Our school community has always been supportive, and against the backdrop of the pandemic over the past two years, the partnerships among students, families, teachers and staff have deepened. We have been thrilled to see the school-family relationship strengthen, as families and teachers work closely to ensure students have the academic, social and emotional support that they need. These are partnerships that help build the foundation for our students, serving them throughout their academic journeys and into adulthood.

As you know, safety is our number one priority, and the school-family partnership extends to our safety protocols, as well. I am incredibly appreciative for our district’s families, who have helped mitigate COVID-19 in our buildings and demonstrated flexibility, understanding and support as we navigate our current situation. By keeping children home when they are sick and following the district’s quarantine protocols, our families are a tremendous asset in keeping schools and classrooms functioning.

In order to achieve our goal of providing a safe place for children to learn, grow and play, the district has partnered with a number of community organizations to help offer critical services, courses and support for our students and families. Notably, we have a long-running partnership with the YMCA for before- and after-school programs, a key service for our school families. We have also recently partnered with South Bend Code School to teach students valuable coding skills that will be important to the workforce of the future. As it does each holiday season, Shelton’s Holiday Food Box Drive is helping to provide support to our families, and we could not be more thankful. Of course, we have so many community partners that we are thrilled to work with, including the Lakeland & Southwest Medical Center, Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce, United Way and Berrien College Access Network. The district is grateful for these and other school partners who contribute so much to our outstanding community.

This holiday season, I am grateful to work with an incredible community that supports and champions its schools, students, families, teachers and staff. To that end, we will not let you down. As always, thank you and Go Vikes!