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Following Cleveland’s ninth cancellation of school due to the illustrious “snow-apocalypse,” Portland Public Schools (PPS) has extended the 2016-2017 school year by two days, leading to a last day for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors on June 13. The school board is currently considering the addition of one more day, though the decision has not been processed as of publication date. The final school day for seniors remains unchanged; students will continue school through May 31, 2017.
In the interest of not stitching nine extra days onto the school year, PPS is additionally considering the decision to cancel the two remaining early releases for the district. This does not include Cleveland tutorial sessions, which will remain scheduled throughout the school year.
Ironically, the school board meeting to finalize these decisions was scheduled for Jan. 17, though was canceled due to weather conditions.
As of Jan. 10, 2017, the school board also voted to reschedule the week of final exams to Jan. 31, Feb. 1, and Feb. 2.
These changes have been made in interest of fulfilling the mandatory 990 hours of instructional time per school year, which the large quantity of snow days has threatened. The school board will address this issue in their next meeting on Jan. 24.
“The number of hours schools need to be in session is dictated by the Oregon Department of Education,” said principal Tammy O’Neill. In order to meet demands, “we will be asking, as most districts in Oregon will be, for a waiver for the amount.”
Meanwhile, many students and staff took advantage of the snow days to catch up on sleep, reenact “Frozen,” and finish internal assessments.
Emelia Witt, senior, seized the opportunity to spend some time outside with family. “I had a snowball fight with my
family at the park,” said Witt. “It was beautiful because there was this huge blizzard happening. It was really nice.”
Witt also conducted some snowy sled experiments with friends. “We wanted to be creative with our ways of sledding because the hill [that we were sledding down] wasn’t that exciting; we wanted to spice it up. We ended up making random pyramids and going down in giant stacks of people, which ended up being really fun,” said Witt. “It was really great.”
Freshman Giacomo Calamai missed the snow entirely. “I went on a family trip to south India,” he said. “We did some sightseeing and some touring of the towns and cities. There was no snow.”
“I have a nine-year-old daughter and we have a hill,” O’Neill expressed over her delight about sledding. “Our driveway is a hill that is epic. It was so fun.” When sledding, “my daughter wears a helmet,” said the proud mother. “First day it’s packed, but when it starts getting icy, ‘Get on the helmet!’ ‘Alright mom.’”
Sophomore Caroline MacLean used her seven days to power through three seasons of “Bones” on Netflix. “I got trapped in my house,” said MacLean. “My car wouldn’t start!”
Freshman Madeline Sweet worked on an icy project–a polar bear’s paradise: “We used recycling bins and filled them up with snow to build an igloo,” said Sweet. “It probably took about five hours to finish.”
I.B. Theory of Knowledge teacher Vanessa Hughes dedicated three entire days to the snow. “I woke up on Wednesday thinking that there was going to be an inch or two of snow. I opened the door and looked out into this winter wonderland, and my inner eight-year old woke up. I spent the next three days playing in the snow. From my home, I went cross country skiing and snowshoeing and fat biking, and yes, I went sledding in a kayak,” said Hughes. “One of the things I noticed being out in those few days: this dumping of snow shuts down the city. It forces everyone to slow down. Of all of the people I met out and about, there were no grumpy people. Everybody was happy, everybody was playing. Four to 45, eight to 80 year olds were out there enjoying the experience and really being joyful and playful. I love that you get to spend moments with your neighbors that maybe you see coming and going from work or who have busy lives, and it forced everybody to slow down and play. I love that.”