By Louisa Benatovich, ECS Student Reporter
“Snow day.” When one hears those words, no matter the age, the heart lifts a little. The promise of no school or homework is enough to warrant a small “yippee” from even the most solemn student. In the United States, the snow day carries prolific weight. Sensationalized in movies, it is the day to sleep in, have snowball fights, and find your true love. It is a day that all students hope for; the day where anything can happen.
On Friday, March 2, ECS parents received a 2 a.m.. call with the news: school would be shut down. Ellicottville, known for its heavy snow and cold winters, usually braves the wintry weather—in fact, snow days at ECS are almost nonexistent—but this time was different. Rearing his ugly head, Old Man Winter ravaged every inch of western New York. Don’t drive unless necessary, the media pleaded, expect abnormally high winds. Ellicottvillians pushed on, driving to work, staying at school for musical rehearsal, finishing mounds of homework. No one expected to get the day off.
As schools and universities around the area began to close, it became apparent that this weather might not be as manageable as was once thought. Like dominoes, power went out in most local homes, affecting many students. Thankful to have power, I watched the snow drifts climb higher and wondered how I’d make it to SAT Prep in the morning.
When I received the snow day news, I must admit, I had mixed feelings: a strange brew of one part child-like excitement and 20 parts STRESS. I had so much weekend homework! Trying to change my pessimistic view, I decided to ask others how they felt about this snow day. Maybe they had some insight that I had overlooked.
After speaking to Crystal Wilder, middle and high school music teacher at ECS, I realized I had tunnel vision. More had been affected by the snow day than I had originally thought.
“Normally, I would be very excited about the day off,” Wilder explained. “However, I (was) sad for many of our musicians across the county that will miss out on (the) weekend’s CCMTA All-County experience.” All-County is an annual two-day event where the area’s most talented musicians perform together in various instrumental and choral ensembles. Olean High School, this year’s venue, was shut down. Many were disappointed at the missed opportunity.
“I (was) also concerned that we are losing a band rehearsal. We have a concert on Thursday,” Wilder continued. “On the other hand, it is nice being home relaxing with my family.” Her daughter Isabella, a 3rd grader, was “excited to stay home because she could read and play all day.” Ah, the optimistic eyes of youth.
Abby Sonnenberg, a junior at ECS, had a less enjoyable experience. She was one of many in the area whose home had suffered a power outage. “It was absolutely terrible,” she recalled. “We had no power and our heat runs on electricity, so my family and I huddled in the living room with our wood stove for warmth.” Her family, like many others, were powerless for 16 hours.
“It did make me appreciate the little things,” Abby admitted. “I had my family, my dog, and food. That’s all I needed. This world is so reliant on electricity. I could totally picture how the aliens would get us.”
Carolyn Bauer, teacher and yearbook advisor, echoed the feelings of the many staff members at ECS. “For me, snow days are about getting up when I want, not when the alarm clock tells me, which is nice,” she told me. “But I confess I always stress a little about all the things I was going to do with my students that now need to be moved around.” This stress is present in all classes, especially Regents math courses, which always suffer a time crunch at the year’s end. With this even sadder information, I wondered if I’d ever enjoy the snow day.
The answer came much later as I sat in the ER, 24 hours after that fateful call. I glanced around, eyes clouded in tiredness, noticing all the waiting patients. Most had ice packs on arms and wrists, ankles and feet. I looked to the seat next to me, at my mother’s finger bent in an unnatural ‘Z’, and hoped a room would open soon. I find that my most philosophical thoughts strike me after witching hour, when the world is quiet and people are still. I looked at the picture Ginna Hensel had sent me, the one used above. The snow looked so gentle, resting daintily on each branch. It was hard to imagine this snow had cause unhappiness, pain, and stress. I realized that it was all about perception.
Yes, this snow day had caused unhappiness for some, but it had also caused joy for others. I was thankful for the men and women up at the crack of dawn, clearing the roads. I was thankful for Dr. Mat at Olean General who popped that finger into place. Life is all about “buts” and “howevers”— the little words that are sandwiched by positive and negative. We must focus on the positive; a snow day is only as magical as you make it.