HUNT COLUMN: When snow news was good news

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, January 19, 2022

By Cathy Hunt
Chairwoman, Troup County School Board of Education

Growing up in metro Atlanta in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I could pretty much count on the excitement of a couple of snow days every year. Some years we would have a day or two of decent sledding and snowman building. Other years, when things got more icy than snowy, hunkering down in a cold house with no power was not as much fun. Yet, there was still a sense of rare adventure. What a grand feeling to peek out your bedroom window upon waking to spy a wintry scene, followed by your mom poking her head in the door to say, “No school today!”

Back in those days, and in my first few years of teaching, if school was canceled due to winter weather, you were going to make it up.

Period. With not as many holidays in the school calendar (which started after Labor Day), you could expect to make those days up in early June. Rules changed over the years, so that a limited number of weather days can be waived, but we still call some teacher work days or Monday holidays inclement weather make-up days. And school personnel always have to get their required number of days in, even if the students have some wiggle room.

So, teachers and administrators have maybe not been quite as enamored of snow days as kids are, but there is still a vestige of that old delight when the announcement is made: “School is cancelled due to winter weather.”

Even though we live south of what my husband and I laughingly call the Snow Line (the border between Heard and Troup Counties), we’ve still had a few memorable snow events.

There was the Blizzard of ‘93, as we call it in my family, when we had deep snow and wild gusty winds in March. Several years ago, we had a little snow on Christmas Day, which was nice. And we’ve had a few sledding-worthy days here and there. But more often than not, hopes for snow days around here leave kids disappointed.

Nowadays we usually have winters that don’t amount to much.

This is a relief to school system personnel who have to study official weather bulletins hour by hour and ride county roads before the crack of dawn to determine if buses can travel safely. Also, I wonder if the widespread use of virtual learning, hastened by the pandemic, will make the need for “snow days” obsolete. There won’t be much excitement in being told that schools will be closed but that everyone should instead log in for the day!

I’ve always loved going to school, both as a student and a teacher, but there’s no denying the magic of a snow day here in west central Georgia.

I peeked out the window over and over again yesterday, first at church and then at home, as the snow fell, even though nothing was sticking. And I hear there’s a slight chance of more snow later this week. I’ll take it — but just for a day or two every winter.