District continues to adjust to “new normal”

District releases plans for material collections, Prom and Graduation


Although 2020 has not been kind thus far, Shaler Area School District has tried to adapt as best it can to this new, ever-changing climate. Suddenly and unexpectedly, our community was forced to stay at home to halt the spread of COVID-19. Soon after, the remainder of the

2019-2020 school year was canceled, and with it, many of the events and activities that were to come.

Though students will not return to class at Shaler Area High School this year, the district and its leaders have worked to move into online schooling and to plan events that many looked forward to in the spring.

Grading and “continuity of learning” have been a top priority of the district. For the remainder of the school year, Shaler Area has moved into a Pass/Fail system. Students who earn a 60% or higher in the final grading period will receive a “Pass” on their final report card. Students who do not achieve this mark will receive a “Fail.”

I am open to the idea of doing something for graduates in late July because I really feel that it is important that seniors have some sort of closure to the K-12 experience you’ve had at Shaler Area,

— Superintendent Sean Aiken

For full-year courses, grades are already set. They will be made up of 30% for each of the first three quarters as well as the student’s midterm grade, which will count for 10% of the final grade. Three-day rotation courses will be calculated using 33.33% for the first two quarters and 33.34% for the third quarter. For second semester courses, grades will simply be the student’s third quarter grade, provided that the student passes the final quarter. If the student fails the final quarter, the course will be dropped and no credit will be received.

“It is really uncertain, right now, what everybody is dealing with. Schoolwork is probably not at the forefront of some people’s minds at this time. We felt, like many universities and other schools in the area, that a Pass/Fail system would be the best way to go right now,” Superintendent of Shaler Area Sean Aiken said.

There will be no finals this year for Shaler Area classes, as there is no way to fairly and feasibly administer them. College in High School (CHS) courses will still have online finals, but these vary depending on the class and its university.

Just as the spring sports seasons began, schools were shut down. Though the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) maintained hope for an abbreviated spring season, ultimately the remainder of winter championships and the entire spring season were canceled.

Senior spring athletes were honored on April 24. A virtual senior night was held over

Facebook Live and the names and future plans of the athletes were announced to an empty Titan Stadium. The District still hopes to honor those who would have lettered in the spring, especially those who would have received a varsity letter for their fourth straight year.

After initially canceling Senior Prom, the district has tentatively set the date for the dance for July 30, providing restrictions have been lifted enough for the mass gathering to be a possibility. The dance will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in Station Square, with the after-prom activities being incorporated into the prom itself.

The Class of 2020’s graduation ceremony has been talked about extensively and is still being planned for the preliminary date of July 31st, if not restricted by social distancing guidelines. There will be three speakers at graduation including the class President, James Engel, one member of the top 10% of the class, and one speaker-at-large, which is available to any graduate. To complete the graduation process, seniors must turn in the senior exit survey, which has been disseminated through the senior Google Classroom.

“I am open to the idea of doing something for graduates in late July because I really feel that it is important that seniors have some sort of closure to the K-12 experience you’ve had at Shaler Area,” Aiken said.

Greater Pittsburgh Speciality Advertising (GPSA) has volunteered to print free senior shirts for the entire Class 2020. Four shirts were voted on by the class, with the winning design created by Elisa Gabriel.

On June 5, the original date of graduation, seniors and their parents will be invited to drive through campus to be awarded their diploma and receive a number of senior essentials including caps and gowns, senior shirts, and other items. Shaler Area educators and staff will line Paul Schweiger Way to send off the class until a formal ceremony can be held. Seniors are invited to decorate their vehicles and the event will be filmed by SATV.

In place of a formal senior awards ceremony, a virtual ceremony will be held on June 3 at 7 pm.  Seniors who earned awards in academics and athletics will be honored and in-house scholarship winners will officially be announced.

Earlier on June 3, the district hopes to schedule students a time to clean out their lockers and return items to the school. Yearbooks and graduation cords will also be distributed during the process. These slots will be 45 minutes long and students will be able to enter the school to return uniforms, iPads, books, and parking passes.

As the community works through the phases of recovering the pandemic, a prom and an actual graduation ceremony may be the horizon for the Class of 2020.

“It’s been a heavy lift, but it’s been a team effort,” Aiken said.