In spite of all of the challenges of the pandemic and its impact on the 2020-2021 school year, D34 and Hillcrest Elementary School remained committed to forging and strengthening relationships. With professional development focused on Restorative Practices, both staff and students spent valuable time engaged in activities designed to promote connections and building community. During class meetings (dubbed “Hurricane Huddle” time) and at various points throughout the school day, students and staff could be found “circling up,” as the circle is one of the main components of Restorative Practices. As one educator and researcher writes, “an effective and meaningful path to both community and communication in my classroom is circle practice, inspired by Restorative Justice…I want my classroom to be a place where students want to be, a place where they feel safe and loved and valued. And I want it to be filled with student voice—I want them to tell their stories. These two qualities are inextricably linked: When students belong, they open up, and when they open up, they belong” (Davenport, 2018).
At Hillcrest Elementary School we also remain committed to providing an environment where students “feel safe and loved and valued.” As we approach the new school year with excitement, we are determined and devoted to continuing to grow our circle practices and ensure that our Hurricane family feels connected, supported, and eager to make the 2021-2022 school year the best one yet!