Snow day puts smiles on faces, skiers on slopes |

Snow day puts smiles on faces, skiers on slopes

Eben Harrell

Yesterday morning the campus of the Aspen School District was as empty as a ghost town. And if you listened carefully, you could almost hear the sound of local children rejoicing.It was what all but the brainiest students dream of: a snow day. Heavy snowfall through Tuesday night meant unsafe conditions for school buses, so school was called off. And by midmorning all four Aspen mountains were littered with snow-silly children, eager to cram in some unexpected fun.”Hell yeah, spread the word: Aspen students are shredding up the snow all over the place,” Aspen High School freshman Michael Badon said between runs at Buttermilk.Teachers were also given the day off. Administrators and custodial staff were expected at work, as long as driving conditions permitted.”I didn’t hear any teachers complaining either as they were turned away this morning,” bus driver Judy Sunski said. “It’s one hell of a powder day.”Despite postings on the district website and automated telephone recordings, a few students showed up at school only to be turned away. Harrison Patrick, a kindergartner at Aspen Elementary School, had a big grin on his face as he left the campus at 9:15.”I didn’t know school was closed but now I am excited because I can do something fun, like ski,” he said.The decision to suspend classes was made by Fred Brooks, the district director of transportation. Brooks said he rarely cancels school due to inclement weather.”It only happens about once a year,” he said. “I made the decision around 5:15 a.m. after I drove along McLain Flats to Cemetery Lane, and both the city and county roads were not suitable for our buses. So I called off school.”While the Roaring Fork School District didn’t cancel any classes, Brooks said Aspen canceled because most of the snowfall from Tuesday’s storm was concentrated upvalley. Usually cancellations are due to poor visibility, not road conditions, he said, but Wednesday was an exception. “Our buses can handle most anything,” he said. “This was a rare exception. But with snow forecasted all day, it seemed better not to take the risk.”Students should enjoy the snow day, district Superintendent Diana Sirko said, because if weather causes another school closure they will have to make up the missed time.”We have a minimum level of hours of class time set by the state that we must meet,” Sirko said. “We only schedule for one snow day a year. So if we miss another day, we’ll have to add class time to our calendars.”Sirko said another snow day doesn’t necessarily require a full-day makeup. Keeping students 15 minutes later each afternoon until the time is made up is also a possibility.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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