May 28, 2020
We made it through the academic year, and we are pressing into our summer planning for the fall! Many of you have been asking what school is going to look like in the future, and to that, I will tell you that I am very optimistic that we will have “in-person” learning on the Berean campus. Though it could take a “modified” or “hybrid” form, precedents are being set around the world for the reopening of schools, and I trust that Berean is likewise on track for a reopening. In fact, with strict protocols from the Contra Costa County Health Department (CCCHD) and CDC, we have already begun our Summer Biology session with students learning on campus five days a week.
I am not sure exactly how the fall will shape up for the entire school, but we are working with information from the CCCHD and CDC to safeguard our campus for future operations by implementing several mitigation protocols to open the entire school in August. I do expect a combination of the following practices to be in place by July, along with a few others that are emerging. Keep in mind, these protocols are suggestive of likely practices, but they may change to suit future Coronavirus mitigation tactics as established by local health authorities for schools.
- Student Drop off and entrance – We are exploring options to reduce crowding, and we may ask students to enter the school in designated areas to reduce congestion.
- Temperature scans – The school has already purchased infrared thermometers for use in the fall. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators may be subject to scans as they come on campus and enter classrooms throughout the day.
- Masks – The school will follow established CDC guidelines and reinforce the use of cloth face coverings around campus.
- Social distancing – Our student/teacher ratio of 13:1 is very good, and most classroom spaces look to be adequate for 6 feet of spacing as recommended by the CDC. At this point, the Student Center will be off-limits for student gatherings. Chapel will be modified with students remaining in their classrooms where they can view live virtual sermons, discussions, and testimonies.
- Sanitization – We are going to promote handwashing before school and at all breaks. You should know that we are in the process of installing portable sinks at several access points throughout the campus to make handwashing easier and more accessible. Along with the portable sinks, numerous “Purell Stations” will be fixed to walls around campus. Furthermore, frequently touched surfaces (door handles, sinks, and drinking fountains) will be sanitized and disinfected multiple times per day.
- Ventilation – Classroom windows may be opened to increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible.
- Encourage the Sick to Stay Home – Students and staff must stay home if they are experiencing any signs of sickness.
Even with many of these protocols in place, we will be prepared to pivot to live distance learning if or when it becomes necessary. And while the fall semester may look daunting, there are signs that things are improving and that the world is tracking in a positive direction. There is much that is still unknown, but whatever may come, Berean will continue to provide our students with a solid Bible-based college preparatory education that exceeds expectations.
May God bless you all!
May 14, 2020
Senior Students and Parents,
Contra Costa County has finally recognized the need for people to connect and celebrate during this season of graduation, and they have publicly released Interim Guidance for Graduation Ceremonies, a document available on their website. In my last email, I alluded to our graduation plans changing in light of the release of this document, but I cautioned against anyone getting their hopes up that a traditional ceremony was in the works. With that, I want you to know that the county has provided just two options for Berean to host an event – one that includes families, teachers, and staff, and one that does not but allows for the event to be filmed for later viewing by students' families. And while there are merits to both of these options, the former seems to be the unquestionable preference – the “Drive Through Diploma Pickup.” With this option, parents and siblings (and those currently living in the student’s household) can, in one vehicle, accompany their senior student to Berean, and with prescribed social distancing and masks, participate in a modified commencement ceremony. From their cars, students will travel through a makeshift course in the Berean parking lot and in so doing, see their teachers and other graduates. When individual families reach the end of the course, students will be able to get out of their car, hear their names called, and walk across a stage to receive their hard-earned diploma. We will have a photographer on hand to snap a few photos, but we will enforce a time limit for each family so as not to encourage congregating. Once a student has received their diploma, they must leave the school and again, not congregate in the vicinity of the campus.
Detailed instructions will be emailed to all Senior families next week, but I want you to know now that the event will begin at 10 AM on Saturday, May 23rd. Again, the virtual ceremony portion of this year’s graduation will be released on Friday the 22nd, and I am asking everyone to view that production at 7 PM sharp.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1–2, ESV)
Thank you for your participation and understanding.
May 13, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
The annual Berean Awards show will be available to view now on our Youtube channel. You can watch the production here. Have fun seeing our teachers and administrators announce this year's top students and scholarship award winners. God bless you all!
May 11, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
There are just two days left until the end of academic instruction! I know it has been a very long road, and I realize these next two days may be among the most difficult of all, as assessments and projects are due! Please know that I have and will continue to pray that the Lord would bless all of our students according to their effort; may He energize them for the tasks that lie ahead!
I also want to make everyone aware of some upcoming events and plans for the end of the year:
The Annual Awards Ceremony will be recorded via Zoom and released on Berean’s YouTube channel on the evening of Wednesday, May 13th (an all-school email will be sent out with link at that time). Students receiving awards will be notified before the event, but I would like to encourage the broader school community to tune in and commemorate this year’s achievements. Underclassmen who win awards can pick them up during scheduled check out at the school (see below). Senior awards can likewise be picked up during checkout (Thursday), along with some gifts and graduation regalia.
Student Check-Out is scheduled to begin on Thursday, May 14th, and continue through Tuesday the 19th. An email will be sent out later today describing the details but know that days and times will be slotted to allow for current social distancing guidelines to be observed.
Virtual Graduation is in the process of being produced and will be released for viewing on May 22nd at 7 PM, the original day and time set for the ceremony. And while I do not want to divulge too many of the details, I will tell you that the ceremony will be very creative and involve our graduates in a way that will honor their accomplishments and look to the future that God has planned for them. Again, I encourage all Berean families to set aside some time to view the ceremony, but I especially want to invite everyone in the Berean community to watch it collectively at 7 PM on the 22nd. For what reason, you might ask? I am going to allocate a few minutes of the program for graduates to text, call, Facetime, or live chat, with one another so that they feel the presence of their classmates, the ones who God providentially arranged for them to go to school with!
Senior Barbeque – Because of the overwhelming demand for an “in-person” event to celebrate our graduates (97% on the survey I sent out), I am tentatively scheduling a senior barbeque (parents and senior graduates only) for July 25th at Berean. Mark your calendars and know that we are going to throw a party if we are able! And while we will not repeat all of the ceremonial aspects of our virtual graduation, we will take some pictures and celebrate together one last time before we send them off.
I look forward to unveiling all of our exciting plans for next year, but until then, I would like to disclose just one, our plan for US History (Junior year). Two weeks ago, I informed the Berean community that April Merlino would assume the role of Dean of Women; what I did not disclose at the time was that she would continue teaching two sections of AP US History. And while her presence in the classroom will undoubtedly bless our students, I also want you to know that Erik Esakson, our Dean of Men, who has also taught AP US History, will teach the remaining US History sections! Yes, our two Deans, both with degrees in History from UC Berkeley, will teach the entire Junior class!
Again, thank you for your commitment this year and for all of the support you have sent our way. Our teachers and administrators feel loved and supported by your generosity, kind words, and prayers. Please continue to bless our teachers in the days ahead and know they have worked harder than they have ever worked before!
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21, ESV)
May 3, 2020
As part of the pageantry of this unique graduation season, we decided to put up a small display along El Divisadero Ave celebrating you and your accomplishments this year. If you happen to be out and about on an “essential activity,” stop by and see what we did. Until then, enjoy the pictures below.
Also, it looks like the governor has put the state back on the path to reopening, and this most likely means that we will be able to host a graduation event. I’m not sure to what extent our event will be “public/in-person” as Contra Costa County has yet to release detailed guidelines as a follow up to the governor’s statement. I’m hopeful that we’ll know more this week, so please stay tuned.
God bless you all,
April 28, 2020
Dear Berean Family,
We are nearing the end of this unique school year with the final day of instruction coming on Tuesday, May 12th. And as that day approaches, I would also like to remind you that we have set aside May 13-15 as a time for students to revisit material from the fourth quarter and consult with their teachers to see if they will allow the submission or re-submission of past due or substandard work for an improved grade. Because there is still time to finish strong, I want to encourage every student to give their best effort in these final days.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that Contra Costa County, as well as four other counties in the Bay Area, have extended the “shelter in place” order until June. There was hope that the order would be lifted in light of some positive progress that has been made, but for now, the quarantine will remain. Unfortunately, the extended order officially puts an end to our hope of hosting any type of year-end event in May. Initially, there was a thought, as mentioned in my previous email, that with enforced social distancing measures, Berean could host either a “drive-in” or “drive-through” ceremony for graduation. Unfortunately, the Contra Costa Health Department has banned this proposal as it violates the “non-essential” portion of the stay at home order. Let me be clear, Berean cannot organize or host a non-essential event that asks people to leave their homes. I’m sorry, but we must abide by this order as long as it is in place (Romans 13:1-7)!
But hope is not lost for some sort of “in-person” graduation ceremony! I am considering moving the date of graduation as far out as mid-July, but I would like to gather some data to gauge our senior families’ willingness to participate should we be allowed to host an event. If you are a graduating senior or parent of a senior, please take a minute to fill out the survey posted here (limit one per family).
I would also like to mention that senior families should expect a surprise delivery in the coming days. I do not want to divulge what will be contained inside of the package, but I do want you to know that something is coming so that you’re on the lookout for it.
On a final note, I would like to announce that April Merlino, our fantastic US History teacher, will become the next Dean of Women at Berean! April is a perfect fit for this calling as she embodies everything we could ever hope for in a Dean, especially her heart for the Lord and for leading His people. Please congratulate and encourage April, but please know that she will not assume her duties until the fall.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21, ESV)
April 21, 2020
Students and Parents,
I hope you’ve had an excellent start to your week and that the Lord has blessed you with a fantastic day in the world that he created for His glory (cf. Is 43:1-7)
I want to let you know about a decision that has been made and a few other things that we are working on for the last few weeks of school. First, I want you to know that final exams have been canceled. We are delighted with our teachers’ performance as well as our students’ efforts during the shelter in place order, and we feel confident that learning took place at a level that can be measured without a summative assessment. Furthermore, the National Advanced Placement (AP) exams have been moved to the traditional dates of our final exam week, and we could find no reasonable way to accommodate both occasions. And while I’m sure there is much student excitement regarding this announcement, the cancellation of final exams does not mean that a form of assessment will not take place at the end of the quarter; individual teachers will find ways for students to engage with semester material to demonstrate proficiency of learning in their particular courses but will now do so on or before Tuesday, May 12 (a date designated as the last day of instruction).
Following the end of instruction, we’ve designated May 13-15 as a three-day period for students to look back on their academic performance in the fourth quarter and to reach out to their teachers to see if they will allow the submission of late work or the resubmission of substandard work in an effort to improve final grades. We realize that the shelter in place order and distance learning may have been difficult to adjust to, and for that reason, I’ve asked our teachers to consider giving their students this limited opportunity of improving their grades during this time. Students, please take advantage of these three days to continue to learn and improve on what you have already done!
Finally, I want you to know that we are in ongoing discussions with the County Health Department, the City of Walnut Creek, and other regional authorities regarding our end of the year events. And while I would love to have “sit-down ceremonies” for Awards Night, Baccalaureate, and Graduation, I do not believe that any type of “stagnate gathering,” even one where people are spaced 6 feet apart, is going to be acceptable, even a month from now. Remember, our county is under a “shelter in place” order, and this directive is not to be broken for “non-essential” activities; our end of the year events fall into that category.
Many of you have reached out to me with creative ways around these guidelines but no suggestion, other than the “virtual” one, looks to be suitable at this time. I have been told that the current restrictions may be reduced on May 3, but there is no guarantee that things will change in time to host a traditional event. For that reason, Berean is in the process of preparing a virtual event for our end of the year Awards Night and a separate online combined event for Baccalaureate and Graduation. We will also prepare for a “Drive-In” or a “Drive-Through” graduation event as a supplement/alternative to the virtual events should restrictions be reduced. If restrictions are reduced, and this type of event becomes available, it will occur at Berean at 10 AM on Saturday, May 23. If by chance, restrictions are completely lifted, graduation will be held at Golden Hills Church on May 22 as originally planned. Again, we are planning for all contingencies, but the virtual one appears to have the highest odds.
And while I know disappointment is in the air, we must obey the authorities that God has put in place (cf. Rom 13:1-7) and trust that He governs “all things according to the council of His will (Eph 1:11). “But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32–33, ESV)
God Bless you all,
April 14, 2020
Berean Parents and Students,
I trust the Lord blessed you with a fantastic Resurrection Sunday at home with your family. And while Christians around the world experienced "being alone together" during online Holy Day "gatherings," we were nonetheless united in our common faith in The Lord Jesus Christ - the one who stood in our place and did what we couldn't do for ourselves. May He be glorified as we move forward in confidence to whatever He may have for us down the road (Proverbs 16:9).
In regards to moving forward at Berean, I want you to know that school will continue with the distance learning format for the remainder of the school year. There was some hope that the current social distancing guidelines would be relaxed to allow us to regather for a few weeks in May, but that has not materialized. Again, we trust that the Lord is accomplishing his intentions as we wisely commit our work and way to him (Proverbs 16:3).
In consideration of other year-end events, including graduation, I want you to know that I am going to hold off on deciding what we can do until the regional health authorities unveil a detailed plan for our state to return to normal. I was hopeful that today's announcement by the governor would provide a timeline and parameters for the modification of our events, but he was somewhat ambiguous and did not offer a detailed strategy for moving out of the stay at home order. I trust that a comprehensive plan will emerge in the coming days and that year-end events will be planned according to recommended restrictions and guidelines. Whatever happens, know that we will find a way to celebrate the work of the Lord and the accomplishments of our amazing students.
On a lighter note, I want to let you know that we are going to announce April’s Student of the Month on Instagram and Facebook (@BereanChristianHighSchool) tomorrow at noon. Be sure to check it out!
Know that you are loved and missed and that I look forward to seeing all of you in person as soon as the Lord makes that possible.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,” (Colossians 1:3-4, ESV)
Your partner in ministry,
April 3, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
We’ve made it through three weeks of rigorous distance learning to Spring Break, a well-deserved respite from academics. I pray that the Lord will bless all of you with His presence during the time off as you enjoy one another and celebrate the work of Jesus Christ and our resulting peace with God (Rom 5:1).
Please pray for all of our local pastors and churches as they collectively prepare to host Easter services and declare the good news through online mediums they did not expect to use three weeks ago. Certainly, the Lord has grabbed the world’s attention, and His people have been granted an extraordinary opportunity to proclaim the gospel to the lost. May the Lord use this crisis to bring an unparalleled revival!
Please know that I will be in touch with you regarding the probable cancellation of future school events, but until then, enjoy a week free from those concerns. May the Lord bless you, and may He use all of you to bring glory to Himself (Is 43:6-7).
Your partner in ministry,
March 30, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
Distance learning classes are in full swing at Berean! We are so thankful for the overwhelming encouragement we have received regarding the efforts of our teachers. They have been working above and beyond their regular hours to ensure that all of our students continue to receive excellent academic instruction and discipleship in an online format. To those ends, please continue to pray for them during this time away.
A few reminders:
- Ren Web: As you probably already know, all lesson plans and assignments are entered into RenWeb by Monday morning. If there is any question about what is expected during the week, please check there first.
- Expected Hours of Work: Without the normal structure of the school building and bell schedule, it can be challenging to gauge the amount of time required to complete academic tasks at home. In a general sense, Berean students should expect to devote the same amount of time that is usually designated for school hours (8:30-3) plus the amount of time they typically spend on homework. With that said, long days of learning are normal.
- Take Care of Yourself: Students, be sure to take a couple of short breaks during the day to refresh. Get some exercise (i.e., go for a walk, run, play basketball); anything that is away from the “screens.”
- Dress Code: Please remember to dress appropriately and to check your background when participating in live online sessions with classmates and teachers.
I keep praying for all of you, and I hope to see you back at Berean very soon!
March 25, 2020
Students and Parents,
I regret to inform you that the Junior-Senior Banquet (JSB), scheduled for the 25th of April, has been canceled due to the ongoing health crisis. Please know that I held out hope that things would improve in time for the event, but today, the health authorities of Contra Costa County extended school closures and their ban on large gatherings past the date of our event.
I sincerely apologize for the great inconvenience this may cause you and your family, and I mourn the loss of this momentous occasion in the life of our young people. If there is any possibility of rescheduling, I will find a way to do so.
Advanced ticket purchases will be refunded in the coming days.
Thank you for your understanding,
March 16, 2020
Teachers are putting the finishing touches on the distance learning plan they began working on two weeks ago. I am incredibly pleased with their efforts, and I am sure you will be as well. Along those lines, please know that I have asked each of your student’s teachers to send you an email, by 6 PM this evening, outlining their fourth-quarter objectives and their plans to accomplish those objectives in a digital format. Yes, you may receive up to 7 more emails from Berean today, but I want you to get a taste of what your student can expect and what will be expected of them from their classroom teachers.
And while I trust that the Lord will bless this time away from the Berean campus, I know that we are going to need your support and encouragement as we navigate the challenge put before us. To those ends, I want to ask you to do a few things to help us keep your kids on track:
- Please encourage them to get on a routine right away
- Have them communicate with teachers as needs arise
- Promote academic integrity as they will be on the “honor code” indefinitely
- Help them to observe the appeal for “social distancing”
- Pray with them for the Lord’s help
I want you to know that I am praying that Berean, and the churches that comprise our student body, would make Jesus look good to the watching world in this moment. For the Lord has called us to be a “city on a hill”- a living testimony to those who do not know Him (Matthew 5:14). May He help us to do that!
March 13, 2020
We must do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our region. To accomplish this and to protect the health and safety of our students, families, faculty, and staff, Berean Christian High School will be closing its doors beginning on Monday, March 16th. School will remain in session but will do so with a digital “distance format” beginning on Tuesday, March 17th.
Teachers and staff have been planning for this contingency for the last two weeks, and we are ready to proceed with our curriculum and academic calendar as prescribed. I do not anticipate a drop off in the quality of our educational offerings, as the only thing that will change is the medium of our instruction. Our teachers are committed to their students, to serving the Lord, and to finishing the fourth quarter to the best of their ability, whether online or in person.
There will be more emails and details to come, but for now, know that your students should stay home on Monday and to be ready to learn on Tuesday. To those ends, I am asking those who are present today to take essential academic materials (books, I-pads, notebooks, etc.) home with them.
May the Lord grant us his wisdom and strength as we do this well!
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
March 12, 2020
The Contra Costa Health Service's (CCHS) guidelines have come down to local districts and athletic departments. As of today, Berean CIF athletic events will continue to be held as scheduled, but spectators will not be allowed to attend. Please make plans to have your student-athletes dropped off and picked up following competitions and again, know that you may not be present at the event. I apologize for the inconvenience, but please understand that this action is in the best interests of our community.
While the game may not be viewable in person, there may be an online option for a live feed broadcast. Please see the link below.
We will keep you informed as the situation progresses. If you have any questions, please reach out to our athletic director, LaShawn Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org).
May the Lord guide all of us as we appeal to Him, and may He grant that we make Him look good in this unfolding situation.
Nicholas Harris and LaShawn Wells
March 10, 2020
The situation with the Coronavirus continues to progress, and the Contra Costa Health Department is advising that all mass gatherings with more than 50 people be canceled. For that reason, I want you to know that tomorrow’s chapel will not be held in the gym but rather in individual classrooms with students watching a pre-recorded interview that I conducted this afternoon.
For the time being, I am also asking students to refrain from congregating in the Student Center during breaks and the lunchtime period. To that end, dining tables will be relocated outside to the quad where students will be able to enjoy warm temperatures and some fresh air.
I also want you to know that we have stepped up our disinfection of the school. In addition to having all school desks and tables sterilized every evening, we have instructed our janitorial staff to sanitize every classroom door handle multiple times per day. Again, every classroom has received a generous quantity of disinfecting wipes that can be used by students and teachers at will.
And while I know this has been stated many times, I feel compelled to request once again that sick kids stay home. If your student has any signs of illness, whether you believe those symptoms to be severe or not, please do not send them to school. This is not the time to take a chance.
Finally, I want you to know that I have sufficiently investigated and found to be false a rumor describing one of our students as having the Coronavirus. I’ve spoken with the student’s parents, and there is absolutely no reason to believe this to be true.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, ESV)
March 3, 2020
I trust you are aware of the emerging situation regarding the Coronavirus and its spread around the world. Please know that we are preparing for every eventuality, including the possibility of distance learning, should the Contra Costa Health Department ask us to close our doors. I do not suspect this will happen, but we will be prepared if it does.
In the meantime, I want you to know that we are doing our best to keep our classrooms free of germs. To this end, all classroom surfaces (desks and tables) are being disinfected every night by our janitorial staff. Classrooms have also been supplied with containers of disinfecting wipes that can be used by students and teachers at will. Additionally, we are recommending that hand sanitizer be employed by our staff and students throughout the day as needed.
At this point, the most important thing we can do is pray, take proactive steps of prevention, and wisely react if this contagion continues its spread in our community.
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)