Happy Thanksgiving, HTLA Community update

HTLA Community, 

It is difficult to believe we are already nearing Thanksgiving.  Since the school closure in March, we have experienced a strange relationship with time.  The days are both incredibly full and yet they drag.  The months have flown by so fast that it is difficult to place ourselves in the correct month. 

Yet, here we are at the beginning of the holiday season.  We recognize that the idea of COVID-fatigue is real, but I want to urge you all to stay safe.  Limit your holiday gatherings to your household.  Utilize video conference technology to connect with family and friends.  Follow state and county guidelines with respect to wear face coverings and avoiding other social gatherings.  Obviously, it has been a lot to deal with over the last eight months, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Please keep you and yours safe so that we can all come through this together in 2021. 

For schools, this time of year also means the completion of the semester.  Our teachers and students have done amazing work in these trying times to continue to honor the educational goals of HTLA.  While nothing is perfect, our community’s commitment to preparing students for college success is evident in all we have done.  From next week’s Presentations of Learning to the projects we have completed to our student leaders’ development of ways to keep students connected, our students and faculty have continued to achieve the high standards we set.  As we approach final exams, we do so with renewed faith that we are making the most of a difficult situation.  Our goal is to make 2021 even better.   

For the past eight years, Nikki Bender has been our School Counselor.  Students have come to rely on her wisdom and guidance in issues both academic and personal.  It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Ms. Bender will be moving on.  Her last day of employment at HTLA will be December 4.  We wish her the best of luck and continued success in all her future endeavors.  While I am her supervisor, Nikki and I have also become friends and I am incredibly sad to see her go. 

You cannot replace a Nikki Bender.  But the student and the school can build something new.  It will not be exactly like it has been, but HTLA will continue to support students and families as we make this educational journey together.  To that end, we have hired Mercedes Vasquez as our new School Counselor.  Over the next few weeks, communication with Ms. Bender will slowly shift to Ms. Vasquez.  She can be reached at ms.vasquez@ht-la.org.  I am excited to begin working with Ms. Vasquez as we complete this semester and move to the Spring. 

Finally, again, please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving week.  While this year has been difficult, I am absolutely thankful to be able to work with the best, most dedicated, faculty around.  I am honored to be connected to them and amazed at their commitment to our students.  I wish you all joy and safety and the chance to find those things in your lives for which you are thankful. 

All my best, 

Mathew McClenahan