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Message from our Superintendent

Newton and the NFL Draft

Dear ASFM community,

Is there a better image than the one below capturing the archetypical moment of scientific discovery when observation, sensation, and chance trigger insight? I’m following up on my Newton-ASOMEX letter sent just before Spring Break. Where does insight come from? We are led to believe that insight comes solely from interacting with multiple sources of information all the time and this leads to forming a clear answer to whatever challenge presents itself. I think the best insight and innovative ideas actually come from reflection done in solitude–maybe sitting under an apple tree like Newton here below. My point being that as we close out the school year in just seven weeks, take some time to reflect on where we started and where we are now.


On Monday we PCR tested 2670 individuals and recorded a positive ratio of 0.3%.  This equals nine COVID cases. There are also roughly 100 individuals that for various reasons did not test. You have to assume our actual positive COVID count is slightly higher. Still, hardly a number to make us worry. We know the testing lines were long. We were so used to the 20 minute lines that this felt inefficient.  Thank you for your patience. The main reason for the delays is because the nurses took samples in individual tubes. Instead of 24 tubes to fill with pool samples, each nurse filled on average 270 tubes. Thank you to all who helped with the testing on Monday.

Next Monday, May 2nd, we will have in-person learning with random testing during the school day. We will no longer have large scale PCR testing. Instead, there will be a minimally invasive 10% representative sample testing of our campus and ongoing monitoring of our greywater. It’s an interesting and somewhat scary position to be responsible for our community’s health. I will be conservative. Think of this 10% representative sampling and the 66 pesos it will cost you as an insurance policy. We all hate spending money on car insurance, for example, until we actually need it, and then we are grateful.  If there were an outbreak between now and the end of the year, and we had ended our PCR program, we could not restart it overnight. Still, our tolerance and fear of COVID is different now than it was in the fall. If I told you that there were nine COVID cases in ELEM or that a  homeroom teacher had symptoms, you would have insisted I close the classroom or grade level.  It feels different now. I will move conservatively as our decisions implicate the health and safety of over 3000 people.
We received a visit from the SEP inspectors this week, and they are insisting that we close school on May 5th next week. We argued that our parents want more time in school and that this closure would compromise our academic goals; they would not listen. Many of our 11th and 12th graders have Advanced Placement (AP) exams and cannot afford to miss either their class or their tests, therefore the tests will continue as planned on May 5, so all those students who have an AP exam are expected to be on campus to take their tests.  There will be no school for the rest of the ASFM community.  Please see next year’s calendar here.


I started this letter with an image that I think captures the origin of real insight–young Newton under a tree at the moment insight hits him (literally). Newton is distant from the noise that might have distracted him from gaining sudden clarity. Like many people I’m a fan of the NFL, but in many ways the NFL draft is the opposite of Newton sitting under a tree. Here wild assumptions and crazy levels of confidence drive coaches and general managers to arrive at conclusions that are totally unsupported by data. In short, this article compares draft order to later success on the field of quarterbacks. In almost every case the excitement and overconfidence about a certain player ignores certain underlying realities and often those players do not meet the hyped expectations. Tom Brady, of course (New England Patriot’s player!), is an excellent example as he was the 199th draft pick in 2000 but then went on to become among the best players ever. Have fun reading this short article, but remember the main takeaway is that humility and gratitude will ultimately lead us to obtaining insight and understanding–and Newton would counsel us to find a quiet spot for reflection.

Welcome back and let’s make the best of the next seven weeks of school!

Onward, George