January 2021 News and Notes

Chelsea Sophomore Helps Feed the Homeless

What did you do over Winter Break? While most of us were chilling out, watching Soul or Wonder Woman 1984, and taking it easy, one of our sophomores was making a real difference in her community.

Savannah is a 10th grader from Washington, DC. This is her second year at Chelsea School, and in her short time with us she has distinguished herself as a scholar, a school leader, and even as an entrepreneur. Every year during the holidays, her family and friends pull together their resources to feed the homeless. In years past, they were able to feed up to 600 people at the homeless shelter on D Street, NE.

This year, with the pandemic taking a huge toll on everyone, Savannah and her family were determined to once again help the homeless in their community. This year, Savannah cooked and packaged meals for the homeless (chicken, yellow-rice, roasted vegetables, chips and water), and drove around DC handing out warm meals to those in need.  She was able to feed 50 people this year.

“The pandemic has hit our most vulnerable people the hardest,” said Tabatha McNeill, Savannah’s mother. “We’d like to be able to feed the people in our community every month, but we need help from other families.”

Coming Soon: Chelsea Learning Pod

On January 13, Head of School Kristal Weems-Bradner announced that Chelsea School would remain virtual through the end of the year. This decision was based on several factors, including COVID-19 positivity rates in Prince George’s County (over 11% at the time), public health projections, and campus-specific concerns. Another consideration in this decision was the success of the school’s virtual learning platform, which has been efficacious for a majority of students.

Still, the school recognizes that virtual learning has not been ideal for all students, especially those with working parents and/or young siblings. Mrs. Weems-Bradner announced that Chelsea School would be starting a learning pod program for the second semester. This learning pod is designed to meet the needs of students who have been struggling particularly hard during distance learning, and who require in-person adult facilitation to stay on top of their work.

The pod is broken down into two cohorts of students who will come to Chelsea’s campus twice per week. Only 10 students are able to be on campus at any given time, with one adult facilitator. All instruction will continue to be provided virtually by teachers working from home.

The school has taken steps to insure the safety of students and staff by providing safeguards such as socially distanced learning spaces, handwashing stations, HEPA filtration, room purifiers, a mandatory mask and shield policy, daily health screenings and temperature checks, and modified access to campus spaces.

This initiative is meant to provide equal access to learning for all of Chelsea’s students, which is at the heart of the school’s mission.

Message to Students in a Time of Crisis:

Yours is the Most Important Job in Our Democracy

On January 7, Chelsea School students and staff met together in their Morning Meeting like they do every day during the school year. This Morning Meeting was a bit different; however, as all members of the school community tried to process the events of January 6 at the nation’s capital. Frank Mills, Chelsea’s Executive Director, and Kristal Weems-Bradner, Head of School, talked to students about the frightening scene that was witnessed the day before.

“Our top priority was to be honest with our students without frightening them, to help them to put these events into a context without exacerbating their anxiety,” said Mrs. Weems-Bradner. “Our job is to educate, and also support and nurture our students.”

Mr. Mills focused on what each Chelsea student could do in light of these challenging circumstances. “You have the most important job in our democracy right now: to learn to read, to learn to think critically, to be able to analyze numbers, to be able to tell truth from fiction, to be able to decide what’s a fact and what’s an opinion – we need you to be able to do these things so you can make good choices for our country in the future.”

Students expressed their fears about what they saw on television and what might happen in the coming weeks. “It’s so critical that our students are aware of what’s going on around them,” said Mrs. Weems-Bradner. “Even when things are very scary in the world, we try to provide them with an environment that is safe for them to express their fears and ask questions about what they’re seeing and hearing – that’s what Chelsea is all about.”

Alumni Spotlight

Scott Lake, Chelsea School Class of 2018, is halfway through his junior year at McDaniel College on his path to becoming a teacher, and has been awarded the Dean’s List “High Honors” for his Fall Semester which follows “Highest Honors” in the Spring 2020 Semester.  The transition to an online college educational platform has been extremely challenging for Scott, but through hard work and seeking needed support services he continues to move forward.  These accomplishments could not have been achieved without the dedicated teachers and staff at the Chelsea School over the years, of which Scott and his parents are forever grateful.  Scott is working on his internship “Teaching in a Diverse Learning Environment” at the Chelsea School during Winter break.   Kim Lake, Scott’s Mom added, “Thank you for giving Scott the right education at the right time and the encouragement to serve the greater good and fulfill his dreams.”

College Acceptance Season is Here at Chelsea!

Our seniors have begun to receive acceptance letters from colleges and universities!  Every year, our Careers teacher, Hawa Turay, works hard to match students with schools that will best fit their needs.  Colleges where Chelsea School graduates have traditionally had success are smaller schools that can provide supports for students with learning disabilities through small class sizes, academic advisors, tutoring and testing centers, and a seamless plan for delivering accommodations. Ms. Turay encourages all of her seniors to look for schools where they feel they can be successful. Four of our Seniors have already received acceptance letters:

Sincere Sargent: McDaniel College

Jordan Creighton: Mitchell College, Lynn University, and McDaniel College

Seth Roane: McDaniel College

Desmond Smith: McDaniel College










Senior Class Collects Essential Items for Families in Need

The Class of 2021 was back at it again in January, helping families in the school and greater community to meet their needs. The class organized a Winter Essentials Drive to collect items such as personal hygiene products and personal protective equipment. This project follows on the heels of a very successful food drive that provided nonperishable items to Chelsea families and local food banks just before the winter holidays.

The class received donations of essential items from current families, alumni, and board members, all in an effort to help the community. A special thanks goes out to our friend Kevin Bowlin at Printing and Promotional Unlimited who donated hundreds of dollars worth of hospital-quality facemasks to this project.