Sunday, May 29, 2011

AWOL from Blogging? I have an explaination.

When I last wrote on May 18 2011, I had finished all but one exam, the "Sacred Masterpieces" Aural final. This was before a whole host of events over two weekends, which have served as an excuse for my lack of blogging. As I sometimes do, I'll lay out what went on in list format:

R 19 0900a-1100a Final Final Exam
R 19 1130a-0200p Alumni Association Pizza and Yearbook Signing
F 20 0715p-1159p St. A's Prom at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza
Sa 21 1200a-0900a St. A's Afterprom (Official but not School-Endorsed)
Sa 21 0500p-0900p Track Team Hot Dog Party
Su 22 1100a-0200p Baccalaureate Mass
Su 22 0400p-0830p Party at the B-----n home
M 23 0830a-0400p Outbound Senior Retreat
R 26 0630p-0930p Viewing of "The Hangover II"
F 27 1045a-0130p Graduation Rehearsal and Locker Cleanout
Sa 28 0200p-0600p Graduation Prep, and Vespers of Graduation
Sa 28 0700p-1100p Party at the S-----n home
Su 29 0100p-0500p Party at a swanky home, courtesy of the G------t Family

Oh, yes, and my favorite reason to put off blogging: I got to hit the sack and go to bed. I'll pull this one as a reason to give briefs on each social event- later.
But, as you and I can see, the St. Anselm's Community makes sure that Graduation is a big affair.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Snow Days- Was this a good year?

Montgomery Co. MD to students and parents: Sorry; you should've had two 2-hour delays on April 25 and April 26. All absences for those two mornings are excused. Reason? Tornado warnings issued at 6:30am on both mornings. Reason that these delayed openings were not announced? The County makes the call by 5am.

In our area, school delays and closings usually only happen for snow and ice in winter; and the occasional September hurricane, more often a tropical storm. Cancellation of after-school activities is also common for heavy rains. Closing for tornadoes, in an area that receives few, might seem to parents a little incredulous to believe.

Mont. Co. batted average for giving snow days this year: 4. One was given for an ice storm: that day, I actually couldn't get to school safely. Three were given for one Jan. 27-29 snow event, which left 6 inches on the ground in DC, but a whole 12 inches ten miles north in Mont. Co. The County, usually quick to give snow days, made a dubious call for one late-season weather event, giving a 2-hour delay instead. There was a whole 3 inches of snow on top of half an inch of ice on the ground upcounty. Neighboring PG and Frederick Cos. gave the day to the students. Mont. Co. would've probably given students that day and another in February, if it wouldn't trigger an extension of the school year, and if there were not so many "teacher development days" this school year. Given that we took all four of those contingency days, from our perspective, this year was "perfect". Students would need 10 days off in all- rare indeed- to make any further gains: school year extensions are typically capped at 5 days.

St. Anselm's now has gotten its own banner on Fox 5. While some teachers at school have expressed frustration about what they consider "wimpy" calls from Rockville, snow day calls are still based on Mont. Co. MD for liability reasons. What the school really wants, though, is to be able to make calls when Mont. Co. is out of school for teacher days without resorting to a phone tree. Some parents still live email-lite, but sending a shoutout to students on Facebook would work, though.

As for neighboring DC, only one snow day (Jan. 27) was called this year. The other days which Mont. Co. got off, including that ice storm, were 2 hour delays. But this was enough to trigger an extended school year; for some reason, DC had not put in any buffer days against the 180 day minimum. The Board of Education is looking into why the schedule turned out this way this school year.

Snow and ice totals set a record for the East Coast overall; however, three of the five major storms that hit Philadelphia missed DC, which made this winter season an underperformer for the city; yet, by catching one of those missed major storms, and picking up some clouds from the mountains, snow totals were slightly above average in Mont. Co.

Sources: Washington Examiner Weather Page, May 2011; Northwest Current (DC), May 18 2011.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Fun Never Stops

St. Anselm's school year for upperclassmen works as follows: regularly-scheduled classes end the Friday before the start of the two AP weeks. Given that students typically will take three or more of these 3-to-4 hour tests, it makes reasonable sense to not even worry about having classes these two weeks. Given the tests' comprehensive nature, students feel entitled to a multi-hour r+r period after taking the test. I do too. The administration's support for leaving time after the last class and before exam week is that teachers will get to use all their classtime up to AP weeks teaching new material. Students would then study on their own with a review sheet, and come in if they want help. Washington Christian Academy in Germantown, MD, also uses this open scheduling system during AP weeks, to my knowledge.

So you may think that this time as a two-week reprieve, but read this: Teachers can still have due dates on papers and projects, and athletic teams still hold practice. Despite this, I know that some students have used this time to catch up on missed vacation, but apparently that's not me.

I finished my last AP of the year, Biology, on Monday at noon. Yet, I've been up and around, at school handing in papers and prize submissions, finishing on the engineering class' group semester project, attending track practice, and handling all of the pre-enrollment material for the Academy ahead of July. Oh, and I shouldn't forget about the social events, nor the exams next week.

Sceptics of open scheduling during AP weeks can see that, well, at least a few students are putting their larger chunks of open time to good use.