FHN Principal Nathan Hostetler Continues Working On Community Amidst COVID-19

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Credit to Taylor Hill

Head principal Nathanael Hostetler stands at the main door to welcome students into the school.

By Sydney Ellison

The sunlight breaks into the morning as FHN’s principal Nathan Hostetler stands outside the front lobby doors greeting students. He does so with a mask on his face and a cup in his hand. The 20-21 school year looks and feels different than most. This year the main concern isn’t tardies or AP classes, its COVID-19.

“A part of being out there is like setting a tone and making people feel welcome and building community, then a part of it is checking in and making sure people are doing okay,” Hostetler said. “Then a part of it is reminding myself of why I’m doing this.”

In the last two years he has been here, Hostetler pushed hard in making FHN a strong community. He focused on making FHN a place that all staff and students could feel comfortable in.

“Creating that welcoming sense [in previous years] and I was really proud of the way this school started to feel,” Hostetler said.

COVID-19 put a pause on the community, the priority at the start of the year was to make people feel safe. Things like assemblies and dances aren’t in the plans for this school year.  The FHN staff faced a new challenge this year, how to make school feel safe and comfortable during a pandemic.

“A part of what I’m doing right now is trying to get out into the building as much as I possibly can, being as visible as I can, cause I know that can matter to people,” Hostetler said.

But FHN took COVID-19 in stride and now Hostetler has set his sights back on the community. The challenge is how to build a community when FHN has never been more physically separated.

“When we came back to school, I was really worried that we were going to be fighting lots of battles with masks that people would be all up in arms and wound up but instead it was this eerily quiet almost subdued feel that we had,” Hostetler said. “I hadn’t realized how worried and frightened people were until they got into the building.”

Stuco has been is one group at FHN that is fighting hard to build community back up again in the student body. They had the spirit week in the beginning of the year to help school feel more normal and are planning multiple virtual or socially distanced events to take place during the school year.

“We can’t control the situation but we can control how we react to it,” Stuco president, Caroline Blanke said.