Snowmaggedon! 12 inches of snow doesn’t stop SG students from lessons; does rearrange sports

By : 
Jordan Gerard

It seemed to be a storm of epic proportions, as the area had not seen that much snow all at once for a long time. 

Spring Grove saw about 12 inches of the white fluffy stuff, followed by blowing and drifting snow on Monday and Tuesday last week.

Across the river, areas in Wisconsin saw upwards of 18 inches near Arcadia.

Back here, residents and city crews worked hard to clear the sidewalks and streets of snow. City crews were still clearing snow as of Thursday, Feb. 14. 

Students had the day off from Spring Grove Public Schools, marking it the fifth day off in a two week time period. The district has currently used up all three of its snow days.

School was in session on Monday, Feb. 18 (Presidents’ Day) in order to make up the fourth snow day. Students will also go to school on April 17, which was to be the first day of spring break.

Safety of the students, whereas it concerns winter weather, is the top priority of the district, and while students enjoyed the fifth snow day, others were perhaps eager to keep up with their studies, as were the teachers.

Band director Willy Leafblad tried a new method of teaching band lessons over video messaging.

Junior flutist Addison Deschler completed her band lesson with Leafblad through Google Hangouts. Both could see and hear each other while remaining in their own homes.

While the sound quality was not as great as in person, it was sufficient for completing the lesson on articulation, pulse and tone quality.

With 144 students in the band program, serving grades 5 through 12, scheduling make-up lessons after snow days can be tricky, Leafblad said.

Other teachers also found it tough to make up lessons, tests, quizzes and projects during the cold weather and snowstorms.

Science teacher Jennifer Dregne had to reschedule the 90-minute free response questions of the Advanced Placement (AP) biology practice test. 

It’s important for students who take the official test because if they score a three or higher, they don’t need to take a general science class in college.

“Luckily staff members at Spring Grove were willing to excuse students for the first day of semester two in order to make up the exam,” Dregne said. 

Even more difficult than making up a test of any importance is making up lab days in a science class.

During the polar vortex in January school was cancelled for three days, but the science class was in the process of culturing bacteria. 

Since the students weren’t at school, Dregne cultured the bacteria for more than 96 hours. Ideally she would culture it for 72 hours. 

The science room had a distinct, reeking smell when students returned to school, she added.

Spring Grove High School uses a digital platform called Schoology that allows teachers to post assignments to students. 

With the days off, students were able to catch up on missing work or work ahead if they had internet access.

Students can also email teachers if they have questions or concerns about assignments.

Catching up or working ahead is not always possible for all students though, as some are without internet access or they take care of younger siblings on snow days.

Dregne has also been teaching two lessons a day when school is session since it’s still only February and in Minnesota, the land of mild or wild snowstorms, snow can be expected into April.

“We have such highly motivated kids at Spring Grove that asking them to do a little bit more work because we ‘might’ have a snow day is usually not met with a lot of arguments or animosity,” she said. 

Lessons aren’t the only important thing affected by weather; basketball games and gymnastic events have also been, cancelled, moved, started early and rescheduled due to weather.

“Our biggest priority for all school events is safety of our kids, coaches and fans,” Athletic Director Michelle Anderson said. “As people that live in Minnesota, we expect to deal with winter travel conditions, but have to keep the safety of our students at the top of our list.”

Since the winter weather has ramped up, Spring Grove has had three boys basketball matches with Waukon and Stewartville (high school) and Kee Lansing (junior high) cancelled due to rescheduling difficulties.

Two more boys basketball games rescheduled with Grand Meadow and Schaeffer Academy (Rochester).

One girls basketball game with Waukon cancelled, but due to Iowa’s playoffs starting earlier than Minnesota. 

“Our situation hasn’t been as extreme as some other schools when dealing with cancellations and reschedules,” Anderson said. “We started out the winter season rescheduling a couple of boys basketball games because we played football into the state games.”

And back to rescheduling they go. The hardest things about rescheduling are finding dates that work for both teams and schools, as well as dates that work with officials.

The teams also try not to play too many games during a period of days that might be overwhelming for some teams. School and community events are also taken into account.

The girls basketball team is headed into playoffs this week, with all of their regularly scheduled games played, but the boys basketball team has a few more games to make up before their playoffs start. 

Ideally, all regular season games should be done before playoffs start, Anderson added, and it would be nice before the seeding process takes place.

“Athletic directors, superintendents and bus owners or drivers spend a lot of time in the winter looking at weather forecasts, discussing options and trying to figure out if the road conditions to the event will be safe,” she said. “Our bus drivers and road maintenance people are top notch but some conditions are just not safe to be out in.”

The groundhog said spring is coming early, but the state of Minnesota still has a week of February and the month of March for what could be a mild or wild remainder of the winter season.