By Sarah Long
It’s 7:30 p.m. One snowflake falls, then comes another. I run to my computer, type Snow Day Calculator into Google, and scream as the percentage bar is at 80 percent. I already know that’s a 100 percent chance of no school the next day, so I put my homework away- –why do it now? I watch the snow and sit by the phone, waiting for it to ring with the caller ID reading TOWN OF ANDOVER. As I’m waiting, I call my friend Tessa, also known as the Scrooge of snow. She answers grumpily. I proceed to ask her if she’s excited about the snow day. She gives a miserable grunt at the same time my phone rings. It reads TOWN OF ANDOVER. I hang up on her to listen to the lovely announcement of no school tomorrow.
Snow days are a controversial topic. Some people hate them with a burning passion, as it adds on more days in the summer. Others love them, saying “Live in the present!” It varies completely; everyone’s opinion is different.
According to an article in The Atlantic, some parts of Canada need two feet of snow to have a snow day. Not so here, so towns like Andover have now made the decision to start school before labor day in an attempt to get out of school more than two days before July. Last year, power outages and lots of snow made the students of Andover Public School stay in school until June 29, with two days of Saturday school.
When it comes to snow days, Superintendent Berman runs the show. He decides whether or not we will have a snow day and then proceeds to relay the information. It’s a harder job than it seems. It requires thought, common sense, and a pinch of being able to see into the future. “[Whether we will have school or not] is sort of a matter of timing, and knowing the timing and knowing what our public works crews can do,” Berman says. He says safety is a top priority and that they just have to wait and see exactly when the snow is coming, even though mother nature is unpredictable. I’ll just tell you now, if it’s after 6 a.m. and there’s been no call, you’re out of luck. The decision has been made to have school.
Determining a snow day involves a procedure that was used many times last year, what with its 11–yes, you heard it right, folks–11 snow days. “I only make three calls at that time,” the superintendent admits. “I call our assistant superintendent…[she calls] the media stations and the person who calls the bus company…and then I call [the director of communications, Ms. Kieser] and she puts it on text and voicemail.” It’s a simple system that ends with Kieser using a special app that can send out a boat load of messages at once. “I can do a new message, and in it I can type in ‘Andover Public Schools will be closed or have a two-hour delay on the 4th.’” She presses send, and the next thing you know your parent’s phone lights up along with you heart, as you can sleep in. Ms. Kieser is the voice behind the beloved recording on your home phone announcing no school or a delay.
Another topic of interest that has been an ongoing question mark in at least my head is the menton of blizzard bags? Doesn’t ring a bell? Some states and school districts have these things called blizzard bags. They aren’t always actual bags of work, but they’re work for students and teachers to do on days off so that it won’t count as a snow day. “In New Hampshire, some of [the work] is online and the requirement is that 80 percent of the students have to be online for the day, and teachers have to be online 80 percent of the day.” Berman says.
AHS science teacher Mr. Wall would prefer to go to school rather than stay home one day: “It can be cold and you can put a sweatshirt on. If it’s hot, humid and miserable, there’s no climate control for that, and then you’re stuck having to make those [snow days] up.” There’s a point there. Wall’s not too big of a fan of snow days because he resides outside of Andover. The teacher, who gets up at 5:15 a.m., has a commute of 15-20 minutes to get to the school. He’s had bad experiences with receiving the snow day call, saying, “I’ve actually been in the car and came here and they either called a delay or a snow day.” Maybe he’d be a bigger fan of the days off if the notice came a tad earlier.
As Mr. Wall says, “A student always wants to have school off.” Those wise words are true, and have been proven that with the statement of AHS student Nick Germano. The senior makes his stand on the days off as clear as the icicles hanging off New England houses in the winter. “I love snow days,” he states, and goes on to say how he plans on going to the University of Wisconsin, a school in the middle of a snow-filled state. As some may know, the seniors get out the same day no matter how many snow days we have. Germano says how he used to think that was unfair, but now that he’s in the shoes of a senior, he takes all that back. Living in New England is clearly for him, as he ended, “I love the snow.”
Claire Dolan is also a student of Andover High School. The snow day lover has an unpopular opinion on the seniors getting out of school a couple weeks before the rest of the students. “They worked hard all four years of high school. They deserve a break before they go on to college because college is hard,” she says. When she’s a senior, there’s no doubt that she’ll agree with her 15-year-old self.
Dolan agrees with the concept of blizzard bags. She thinks it’s an idea that should be put in to play. “In the summer, I want to swim and not go to school,” she says, and I believe many New England students would agree with that statement.
Another AHS freshman, Madeleine Harris, has an opinion shared by many when it comes to snow days. She looks at them as a “sleeping in” opportunity–a high selling point for teenagers. Harris gets up at 6:20 on school days and 10:30 on weekends. It’s pretty clear why she would enjoy having the day off. Although she likes the snow days, she disagrees with seniors getting out of school early. “I think it’s kind of unfair. The seniors are already getting out early because of graduation, and we still have to go. [The snow days missed is] still school they don’t have to do.”
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if she changes her mind in senior year.