Downvalley students get X Games off |

Downvalley students get X Games off

Students from the downvalley school district won’t have to fear dodging a truant officer at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk later this month.The Roaring Fork School District will give kids the day off Monday, Jan. 31, to let them watch the games. That frees students from the schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs to attend the games that day – or do whatever else they choose.It wasn’t a decision so much out of the goodness of the administrators’ hearts as just plain common sense, acknowledged Assistant Superintendent Judy Haptonstall.”It was more in the spirit of ‘They’re not here anyway,'” she said. “Our attendance on those days was dismal.”When the school calendar was being developed prior to this academic year several teachers lobbied to give the kids a day off during the X Games, as the Aspen schools have done for a few years. Haptonstall said the committee working on the calendar decided to go with the flow rather than resist it.The Aspen schools are honoring their tradition by also giving students the day off Jan. 31.The Winter X Games are in their ninth year and the fourth at Buttermilk. They will be held Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, with practice days on Jan. 27 and 28. The events are free and open to the public.Extreme sports ranging from motorcycle races in the snow to roller derby-inspired snowboarding competitions through obstacle courses make the event a monster hit, especially with young adults and kids.Cheryl Barto of Basalt said her two sons are thrilled to trade a day of school for the X Games. James is in fifth grade at Basalt Middle School and Mark is in third grade at the elementary school.”In the past I have not pulled them out of school,” Barto said. “We’ve gone after school hours.”She said her decision made her feel “old-fashioned” because so many other parents let their kids cut school to head to Buttermilk.So Barto doesn’t have to feel like a fuddy-duddy any more and James and Mark can feed their interests in motorcycles and snowmobiles.Suzanne Wheeler-Del Piccolo, the principal of Basalt Elementary School and a parent, said she thinks it is great that families can let kids attend the X Games for a day this year without worrying about missing school work. She said the games are popular, even with the youngsters in elementary school. She doesn’t think it is widely known among students yet that they have Jan. 31 off.Haptonstall said the downvalley school district experienced the highest absentee rates in past years during the games at all the Basalt schools and the high schools in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.She said she realizes the extra day off causes a hardship for some working parents whose kids won’t attend the X Games, but the absences were high enough to dictate the decision.Teachers yearning to check out the games will be out of luck on the 31st. The district is using that Monday for one of its periodic staff instructional development days.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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