On Tuesday, September 1, the enthusiasm was palpable throughout the building as Shevach High School held its faculty and student orientations. Rebbetzin Rochelle Hirtz, Shevach’s principal, opened the meeting to welcome both new and previous faculty members to a new year. Mr. Heshy Neuman, Shevach’s co-president, then described all the various upgrades and innovations that have taken place over the summer in order to prepare the building for the safe and secure opening of the coming school year. Students and staff alike were particularly excited to be back in the classrooms, after being away for close to six months, due to the trying times of the coronavirus.

Shevach’s goal this year was presented, which is to maintain its superior level of academics, while simultaneously upgrading its extracurricular activities to provide a fun-filled experience as a backdrop to the serious learning. Shevach students can look forward to more programming and more activities that will enhance the incoming year.

Dr. Jay Begun, a well-known pediatrician and Shevach parent, then addressed the teachers about COVID-19 from a medical perspective. He spoke of what is known about COVID-19, and what is not known, and which protocols should be followed based on that reality. His clarifications and suggested precautions to ensure Shevach’s safe reopening were well received

The faculty was also addressed by Dr. Tamar Pearlman, a renowned mental health professional. She explained that the classroom needs to be a safe space at all times, but especially to adolescents at this particular time. There needs to be predictability, empathy, and love. Dr. Pearlman presented tools that teachers and m’chanchos can use to create this kind of space in their students’ lives.

The orientation culminated with the students themselves arriving, staggered by grade. Dr. Pearlman then provided inspiring chizuk to every grade, while acknowledging the challenges of transitioning to school during this time. She captured the girls’ attention with a unique topic for each grade, connecting positive mental health and resilience to Torah, as portrayed by women in Tanach.

Beyond schedules and policy announcements, there was a very palpable optimism as we all approach 2020-2021 in school. The seriousness of Elul and the Yamim Nora’im, coupled with the positivity of a brand-new school year, promises to be a wonderful year like no other.