What a weird winter our students have had

Have you ever known superintendents to call off school nine out of 10 days, as they have these past two weeks?

I have been in this business 41 years, and never can I remember such a thing happening, so I sought former teachers and asked them.

One remembered back in the 1970s an extended period of snow days, but it was more in the range of five straight days, as opposed to nine out of 10. No one I talked with remembered anything even remotely like that, and all shook their heads in disbelief as to the weather that necessitated the closings.

And it isn’t like that weather is all just snow. Yes, snow was a contributing factor to the days off, but so also was the ice, freezing rain and frigid, below-zero temperatures. You name it when it comes to winter calamities, and we seem to suffered from it these past weeks.

Alpena High School Principal Tom Berriman, emceeing the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner Thursday, at one point looked out over the crowd and the many young waitstaff attending to the tables of guests.

Berriman mentioned he was seeing more of his students in that setting, for a few hours, than he had seen most of them for the past two weeks. And, while it was good for a laugh, unfortunately, it was painfully true.

Let’s face it, as students, who among us did not enjoy a snow day? Most of us would hope for such days, looking for a reason to avoid the classroom and instead, hang out with friends or family.

Even still, nine days of that in a two-week period will begin to grow old even for the most die-hard school-skipper. I have to believe many students are tired of this new routine and would gladly welcome being back into the classrooms again.

And when they eventually do return, can you imagine how hard it is going to be for teachers and staff? It will take days to return to a sense of continuity and routine again. Imagine picking back up that complicated algebra formula that the students were struggling with prior to the string of snow days.

Already, other aspects of school life, like athletics, special dances or clubs have been delayed and disrupted. Schedules and calendars have had to have been adjusted. The reach of the snow-day disruption has extended well beyond the initial day off, sometimes weeks into the future.

Yet, through it all, the superintendents have tried to be positive. They’ve tried to remain upbeat. In fact, they’ve developed a little competition among themselves as to who can be the most clever in creating another snow-day cancellation to share with the public.

After all, come snow day cancellation number three, you begin to sound a little mundane and it takes a little innovation to capture the audience with the same old news. The first two cancellations the students are just excited and happy to know there is a day off. After that, however, the creative juices are needed to grab their attention.

It certainly has been a wild-weather winter for school students.

Any bets as to whether there will be school Monday?

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.