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Head's Corner, February 12, 2013
Greetings CMS Families,
I hope that you are well, safe and warm after our encounter with Nemo. Mother Nature spared us from her winter wrath for the past two years. I was a kid when the Blizzard of ‘78 hit and I remember how much fun my siblings and I had eating homemade meals and cookies baked from scratch and sipping hot chocolate or “make believe coffee.” We converted our home into a cross between Disney World and Alice in Wonderland. The Blizzard of ‘78 was the only time that I can remember that we stayed inside for days. I didn’t realize then that there was a state of emergency and that it was unsafe to go outside. My parents always encouraged us to make the best of being inside and challenged us to “exercise our brains”; that often meant read or be creative. I was so tempted to jump into the snow from my bedroom window. It looked like a mountain of giant-sized cotton balls waiting to envelope me. I knew better, so I played it safe by immersing myself in Judy Blume and Nancy Drew mysteries. I played Monopoly, Stratego and Operation. When we were finally able to go out outside, we made enough igloos to make people think that we were in Alaska.
The blizzard was fun, at least for me. When it was finally time for my older sister, younger brother, and me to return to school, my mom had that familiar look on her face that I had grown accustomed to seeing every September. Her usual 100-watt smile seemed muted. I often wondered if she was on the verge of tears and felt sad that we had to leave her. Hah! Clearly the joke was on us. I later discovered that her smile was suppressed elation. She couldn’t wait to get us out of the house so that we all could resume our routines. I, too, have that exact smile every Labor Day, at the end of every school vacation, and yes, this morning as I dropped my kids off at school.
As a school administrator, it is critical that we make decisions that are in the best interest of our students. I made the mistake once of dismissing students mid-day instead of cancelling school. As result, students, staff and parents suffered. The last student wasn’t picked up until 8PM. It took staff members hours to get home, and what normally would have been a quick commute for me was a three-hour nightmare. I vowed that I would never place my school community in jeopardy again. When we left CMS on Thursday afternoon, we all knew that school would be closed on Friday. The meteorologists predicted record-breaking snowfall, and there was no way we were going to have school.
On Sunday afternoon I drove to Cambridge to check out the conditions. I thought about CMS students, families and faculty trying to get to CMS the next day on narrow streets and half-paved sidewalks and could not imagine having school on Monday. I made the decision to close school. Some people were happy. Some were not. I knew I made the best decision for our community. I felt even better when I thought that my kids’ school would be open. I drove by their school on my way back from CMS on Sunday and could not imagine them cancelling. After all, I worked at their school for seven years and the Head of School is from Buffalo and lives on campus. Snow days were few and far between. My imagination started to kick in and the thought of having a snow day to myself, sleeping in, doing Zumba, playing Jeopardy online, reading a few magazines, and making a meal fit for a queen gave me something to smile about. Suddenly my grin stretched from one ear to the next. It was a 100-watt smile.
When I pulled into my driveway, my two lovely children met me and my husband at the door. "What’s the verdict?" they asked. I told them that there was no way my students would have school the next day. Then they asked, "Will we?” "Unfortunately you will," I replied. Your school is plowed and the streets look fine. I sat on the couch, continuing my imagination, and then it happened. My kids screamed!!! "We have no school!!!!" As they jumped around the house, my dream became deferred. In that moment, I understood Peter’s (their Head of School) decision. It was about their safety. My smile was muted but my heart was filled with joy because someone else thought about my children’s safety. We had a great day yesterday doing most of the things that I imagined. When I dropped them off, I felt good that they were going to a community where they were loved, and I was headed to a community that I love. Today I am smiling from ear to ear!
Have a safe week!