Publisher’s Perspective

Chad Koenen

Is there anything quite like a good old fashioned snow day? As many school districts across the state swap snow days for e-learning days, the excitement of a snow day or two hour late start is being lost for our new generation of youth. Last week was a perfect example as school was called off the night before for a number of school districts in our area, who opted to have students learn in front of a computer all day instead of playing in the snow, or at the very least get a little extra sleep due to a shortened school day. 

Twenty plus years ago school was not called off or delayed quite as frequently as it is today—or at least that was the case with my new high school in Wheaton, Minn. From an outsiders perspective the philosophy was to have school, if at all possible, in order to not have to make up days at the end of the school year. A noble, but absolute idiotic philosophy looking back all these years. 

Since we needed to make it to lunch in order for the full day to count, and the buses only traveled on plowed roads, us fortunate souls that lived in town were left with some interesting situations trying to get home in the middle of a blizzard. One such incident came during the winter of 1997-98 when a fast moving snow storm took hold of the greater Wheaton area. Let me also start the story by saying I did not bring a hat, gloves or boots to school and the snow drifts in the parking lot were knee high. Also, I had moved to town just a few months prior to this snow storm. 

Typically, when school was called off early due to the weather, a person from the school office would come over the loud speaker and tell us we would be going home after lunch and to be careful on the drive home. As the snow continued to fall, it appeared at least to the untrained eye, our school administration picked a fight with mother nature and lost terribly. 

Power was going off throughout the town and I will never forget the panic in the eyes of our principals eyes as he worried out loud about what would happen if electricity went out and the school had to rely on a back up generator for an extended period of time. Not only were we not going to go home early, but there was a fear many students could have to be at the school until long after the final bell rang for the day. 

The consolation, as we later learned, was those of us who lived in town could go home due to the inclement weather, provided we have our parents permission and a ride. At the time, we lived from about Frazee High School to All in All, but even that was too far away to walk home. 

Even though I moved to the community just a few months earlier, I managed to find a classmate affectionately known as “Buddha” who I was able to con into giving me a ride home. When asked by my parents who was giving me a ride home, apparently a nickname of Buddha raised a few red flags, I had to put the phone down and ask him what his actual name was (I think it took me almost a year to finally remember his name). 

As we prepared to leave the school the warning we got from our principal was comical, yet told the real story of the weather, if we got stuck in the parking lot we had to come back to school. However, if we made it to the main road we could go home.

In today’s world I have no doubt that someone would have taken out their cell phone and recorded these four idiots pushing a vehicle through snow banks going over the front of their vehicle without so much as a hat or gloves on. 

We ended up making it out of the parking lot without getting stuck, and ironically of course, I went over to Buddha’s house the rest of the day and walked twice as far home in the middle of the snow storm later that night. 

Today, a lot of the “adventure” of getting home from school from inclement weather has been taken away by area superintendents who use common sense in calling off school, instead of being stubborn about not wanting to add a few days of school at the end of the year. Unless of course, someone wants to go viral on the Internet by pushing an old car across a parking lot full of snow drifts and celebrating like they just won a national championship when they hit the open road.