PV Schools

Wishing all a wonderful holiday weekend with the hope that April will greet us with a smile of spring.

Dear Staff and Community:

As we say farewell to a month that has been filled with heartache, sorrow and struggle, March will always bring to mind the grief we shared and the storms that tested our resolve. We have also heard young voices advocate for safety and their desire to feel unafraid in their schools and neighborhoods. As adults who are committed to provide a secure place for children to grow and learn, we are seeking a balance between building fortresses and creating places that embrace attention, caring and support as essential qualities of the learning experience. We will always be engaged in this dialogue heard during the Listening Hour last Thursday night. Next week our administrative team will meet with a local safety consultant, Altaris, that will be assessing our current protocols and facilities to develop a needs assessment and recommendations that will further our efforts to create safe and caring schools.

With the heaviness of the last few weeks, it is important to note that the month of March has been designated for many years as Women’s History Month, a time to reflect upon the role of women in our nation’s evolution as a democracy. It is difficult to come to grips with the fact that women could not participate in our national conversation as voters until 1920, less than 100 years ago. After hearing the voices of many young women and men since the Florida tragedy, it is remarkable to comprehend how much we take for granted about the change in our Constitution that took place in order for these voices to be heard, not only in protest but at the ballot box.

As a way to demonstrate the way women’s roles have been seen, even in the past 100 years, the New York Times recently provided a special section devoted to women who had contributed immeasurably to our national progress, but had been overlooked in the prestigious NYT obituaries. It was so moving to read about those who had done so much to make a difference, but had been invisible. In fact, as part of a community learning experience at the Middle School, all students and staff went to see the film, Hidden Figures, about the women who were brilliant mathematicians instrumental in America’s first space expeditions, and who suffered discrimination and were never formally recognized for their remarkable gifts.

As a center of the national women’s suffrage movement, New York State and our region became the headquarters of Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters. Their relentless efforts to gain the vote resulted in a victory that amended the Constitution and opened the door to women in ways we take for granted today. Certainly, there are many unsolved issues in the social and political realm that we continue to encounter, but the underlying understanding about who may participate was radically altered through moral courage. I learned this weekend that the New Castle Historical Society in Chappaqua has an exhibit that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Suffrage and holds a number of artifacts from the journey for the vote. This program would be a convenient and educational family trip and runs through May.

With our District focus on Sustainability this year, I would like to make special mention of a heroine of my generation who was able to popularize ecology as a scientific movement that created our current perspective on how our approach to nature can lead to unintended and dangerous consequences. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, published in 1962 demonstrated how the widespread use of DDT was killing not just insects that affected agriculture, but through the food sources of birds and animals, and ultimately, humans, was leading to extinction of wildlife, beneficial insects and bees, and creating diseases in humans as well. Her focus on natural systems and ecology was a new concept that shattered some deeply held beliefs about how innovations were accepted without question.

Much has changed since Carson’s bestseller influenced opinions. Her observations of nature became a marker in our current approach to the environment and the concept of a sustainable approach to energy and ecological systems. We are grateful for her work and heartened to see many of our students empowered to participate in new research that leads the way in creating a better world for all of us to enjoy.

Wishing all a wonderful holiday weekend with the hope that April will greet us with a smile of spring.


Fran Wills
Superintendent of Schools