The South Orange-Maplewood school district (SOMA) racked up so many snow days over the course of the 2013-214 winter season that the Board of Ed has been forced not only to put summer recess on hold—they’re taking the whole season off the calendar.
BoE President Elizabeth Daughtry was still shaking her head in disbelief when talking to Barista Kids about this unusual move. “I mean, the first 10 snow days were a lot, but still reasonable,” she said. “After that, we even stopped having Board meetings. With all that snow and ice surrounding us and keeping everyone in their houses, there seemed no point in going on.”
Daughtry worries about students falling behind from so many missed days.
Daughtry then lapsed into an unblinking silence and didn’t respond to any further questions, except to visibly flinch whenever the words “winter” or “snow” were mentioned.
Luckily, Columbia High School Principal Kirk Smith was able to explain things a little more clearly. “All of the schools have plans in place to compensate for extra snow days and emergency closures,” he said. “Once we’d exhausted those plans—and ourselves, I might add—we had to get creative.” Everyone involved in running the SOMA schools initially resisted canceling all of summer, he noted, but after more than a dozen sessions of shoveling the driveway and front walk, it became clear to everybody that winter had won—and summer had thoroughly lost.
Kirk then excused himself and could be heard sobbing on the other side of the door.
Needless to say, parents in Maplewood and South Orange are horrified by the thought that there won’t be a summer in 2014. “Do you realize how much of this winter I had to spend with ALL of my kids? I mean, ‘cabin fever’ barely covers what I went through,” said a Maplewood parent who asked to remain anonymous. “And now I don’t even get to have a summer? After the 3rd time I smashed up my car’s sideview mirror while trying to drive down these snow-narrowed streets, thoughts of the beach were the only thing keeping me going.”
Still, there are proponents of the radical no-summer option. “My parents make me get a stupid job every summer,” noted April Tromper, a 14-year-old in South Orange. “I end up smelling like fried chicken at the end of every day, and I don’t really make enough money to do anything cool. So, like, whatever.”
The cancellation of summer also got support from an unexpected quarter. Tuscan Elementary Principal Malikah Majeed told us she was contacted via email by 70s rocker Alice Cooper, who said he’d gotten a Google Alert when SOMA posted its “School’s Not Out for Summer” page on the district’s website: “Mr. Cooper told me that while he believes school should always be out for summer—and even suggested it should be out forever—our change in the calendar had given him an idea for a new song.” Majeed said that while she’s not a big Alice Cooper fan, she had been listening to some pretty dark music in January and February, and recommended we check out “Snow Beard” by Hollow Creek.
Alice Cooper could not be reached for comment.