Instead of just sending out a rather nontraditional supply list for students prepping to start school next week, North High School got the shopping done for prospective Polar Bears this year. Tuesday and Wednesday are pickup days, and also the best chance for students to be physically on campus until no one knows when.
Thanks to a coordinated logistics effort by school staff and a generous step-up by community sponsors, some 1,500 “virtual care packages” were assembled that include uniquely 2020-21 essentials like personal-sized dry erase boards and the trending wardrobe sensation that no one should be seen without – masks!
“We wanted to equip students with some things that will help them adjust to virtual learning,” said North Associate Principal Steve Leib. “Heather and the By Degrees Foundation reached out and did a tremendous job of finding resources to fill our needs.”
That’s Heather as in Heather Isaacson, Director of Programs for the By Degrees Foundation that just keeps empowering the Northside engine. Isaacson, like the foundation’s CEO, Emily Westergaard, is a North graduate who can’t get enough of the place.
“I love this school and these people,” she said Tuesday morning while helping distribute the swag bags she arranged for through donations by Bank of America and Affinity Credit Union. “The students are incredible and the staff is relentless. And we are so grateful to our community partners who made this possible.”
The original plan, weeks in the making, called for a strictly outdoor event. But, in keeping with the 2020 times, the plan had to change on the fly when iffy weather moved into the area as the first batch of students, 9th and 10th graders, began arriving early Tuesday morning. Everything except for the complimentary food and beverage station, provided courtesy of Hy-Vee and Fareway, was hastily but seamlessly transferred into the gym where a squeaky clean floor looked like it was practically begging for some foot traffic. Outdoors, the hot dog grill stayed dry beneath a canopy.
The mood was decidedly upbeat and confident. Even in the capital city of a state that’s currently flaring as the hottest of pandemic hot spots, “We’re so chill they call us Polar Bears,” to quote a t-shirt seen on the scene.
Maybe not as vital to the back-to-school wardrobe as the masks, but a good read on the temperature at North High, where the students and staff are way tougher than the times.