School’s Out, Eastern Shore

Really? School’s out? Again? How can we expect our kids to pay for our social security if they can never get an education?

Although I am an Eastern Shore native, our family thrived for over a decade at the base of the Colorado Rockies. There, echoes of the spirits of pioneers calling them westward over the Appalachians and across the Mississippi can still be heard. Know what they say? “School’s open.” Because, only in a rare Hagar-the-Horrible-snow-up-to-the chimney blizzard did our kids stay home.

This represents a conflict of cultures as much as perspective. You see, in Colorado, the heart of perseverance still beats strongly within barrel chests. An obstacle isn’t something to be waited out, but conquered.

“Those Appalachians are rough.”

Press on.

“The Mississippi River is deep.”

Build a raft. Drive your schooner onto its back. Press on.

“Look Daddy! It snowed a foot!”

Get your boots, kid. You’re going to school.

Then, we moved back to the Eastern Shore where school gets cancelled every time a fly farts. I’m convinced the first item on the agenda at every school board is to brainstorm new and creative reasons for cancellations.

Tell me, what is a fog delay? We would have the kids dressed and almost out the door when our kindergarten teacher, knowing we were unaccustomed to entitlement mentality, would call to ensure we knew of school’s postponement. There wouldn’t be a stretch of fog for fifty miles. But if somewhere, maybe in the remotest corner of Saxis, a patch of vapor formed, the economic engine of the entire Eastern Shore would blow a rod. Then the harmony of all the school boards would float over fields like a Jimmy Buffet song, “There’s A Patch of Fog Somewhere”.

“Well, in Colorado, they have the equipment to clear the roads.”

Granted. But they also have a lot more snow. And just like the Eastern Shore, side roads aren’t plowed. Many times even main roads are packed in ice. In the Rockies, our kids went to a charter public school, which meant it only received 75% of its budget. One of the items that didn’t make the list were school busses. Every morning, parents would drop their kids off between high piles of frozen whiteness in the parking lot. If the forecast called for snow, it meant we got up an hour early to shovel the drifts from our driveway.

So, what are we teaching our kids when we cancel school at the least threat? Sit down and wait it out? How does that prepare them for life that continues whether convenient or not?

My sister in New Hampshire has three feet of snow in her yard. Even to her amazement, school’s on. Please don’t misunderstand. We shouldn’t be reckless. Ice or a thick fog is certainly good reason to delay. But a measure of prudence goes a long way toward perseverance. Be careful. Drive slowly. Give yourself extra room to stop.

However, Eastern Shore, when in life you meet an obstacle, take a pause and remember your seaborne heritage. Tilt your head into the squall. Press on.

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