- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

For Chantilly High School student Bridget Brinkman, last week's snow break was about catching up with friends and sleeping late, not worrying about homework.
"I came back today and they said something about homework, and I was like, 'homework'?" the 16-year-old sophomore said yesterday.
Bridget, like many students across the Washington area who headed back to school for the first time yesterday since Feb. 14, have more unpleasant surprises in store. To make up for lost time, students can expect to get more homework, longer school days, canceled holidays or a longer school year.
Making up for the snow days will also mean skipping activities such as pep rallies and parades that can cut into instruction time.
"We are trying to postpone anything that would directly affect class, like any special activities we can do without," said Sylvester Conyers, principal of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County.
Most schools opened on time yesterday, except for Prince George's and Montgomery counties, where they opened two hours late because of icy sidewalks and neighborhood streets.
Schools in Falls Church and the District opened Friday.
Parents in the District pitched in to ensure children were safe Friday and yesterday.
At Eaton Elementary in Northwest, mothers and fathers shoveled snow off sidewalks and entrances, and cordoned off a place where snow may slide off the roof. They also greeted children as they were dropped off.
"We had a plan," said Trish Berman, who leads Eaton's Home and School Association. "We wanted this be as little hassle as possible. I've seen it in the past. It hasn't always been pleasant."
Schools also ordered indoor recess and urged high school students to ride the school bus rather than drive.
Some school districts haven't decided how to extend the school year. However, Arlington County may add an extra half-hour to each school day, and Alexandria has scheduled make-up days on three holidays during the next two months.
Maryland State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said she will ask the state Board of Education to waive two of five scheduled make-up days, leaving students to make up three days of school.
Officials in the District and Fairfax County are thinking about adding days to the end of the school year.
But students and administrators said that adding school days to the end of the year was not a good option.
Sherry Fahmi, 16, a junior at Chantilly High in Fairfax County, said such a move would be counterproductive. "The last few days of school we don't do anything anyway," she said.
Mr. Conyers agreed, saying most of the testing occurs before the end of the school year.
But, for students, yesterday was about getting back into the groove and being quickly reminded what school is all about.
"Everyone was kind of out of it, and they weren't used to being in school after having the whole week off," said Riley Hansen, a seventh-grader at St. Mary's Catholic School in Annapolis.
Riley, 12, said the week off seemed like an eternity when it came to math class. "Math was killer," Riley said. "We just totally forgot everything."
His teacher postponed a math test that was scheduled for yesterday. But, Riley said, it was worse in religion class, where a test scheduled for today will go on as planned. "Everybody is going to do pretty bad," Riley said.
On his first day back, Chantilly High freshman Brandon Poteet, 15, was given a test in his honors biology class. He later said he hadn't spent any time studying for it last week. "Who wanted to study when it was all snowed up outside?" he said. "You couldn't concentrate."
Some students blamed the long break for their lapses in classroom etiquette.
Frank Brown, 9, got into trouble when he talked out of turn in class.
"I'll probably get punished," said Frank, a fourth-grader at Annapolis Elementary. He said that after playing in the snow last week, he was too worked up for sitting in a classroom. But he said that he was prepared to accept the consequences, and that the run-in with authority didn't dampen his school spirit. "It was good and fun" to be back, he said.
For some, the snow made going to school a little easier.
A combination snowball fight and king of the hill game broke out on a huge mound of snow plowed from the playground behind Annapolis Elementary. The children said the battle had to wait until after school because recess was indoors yesterday.
"The good thing about being back was that after school we had a chance to play on the big snow pile," said Sam Biddle, 9, a student at Annapolis Elementary.
Austin Joseph, 6, said his first-grade class at Bel Pre Elementary in Silver Spring was learning about the universe when the snowstorm hit the region. He said he wasn't too worried about forgetting his lessons when he saw his teachers yesterday.
"They forgot a few things too," he said.
S.A. Miller, Jon Ward, Jabeen Bhatti and Matthew Cella contributed to this article.


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