Calendar chaos

Missed school days and concern over testing has been well-talked about this winter, but the activities going on in the busy lives of students-athletics, dance, after school programs-have also been impacted by the weather.

Those involved say they’re now doing their best to make up for lost time.

With most area schools over the 10-day mark for missed days, programs both affiliated and not affiliated with schools have also missed practices, rehearsals and preparation time.

Athletic officials and instructors are simply trying to keep students on track as much as possible, as they all agree that this year’s weather has made for issues they have not experienced in the past.

The Marietta Dance Academy offers a wide array of classes, from ballet to jazz, for all ages, and the company has a policy to close its doors when Marietta City Schools closes.

“It has been really tough on business this year,” said director Jill Ruff, who made the decision to refund classes for half a month in January because of all of the missed days. “We’ve missed four Mondays after Christmas break, and that is the day when we have the most people in here.”

Four Mondays, three Tuesdays and two Wednesdays have seen canceled classes, and Ruff said she is currently rescheduling classes for later in the season.

“Come spring, soccer starts and I really don’t think I can get that amount of kids to make up those lessons,” she said.

The academy has its recital on May 31, and Ruff said she plans to keep that date.

“My teaching staff knows that we have to really hit choreography within the time frame that we do have and our kids know they have to buckle down,” she said. “The parents support it, and it came down to having to have some extra practices to stay on task.”

Waterford High School’s FFA program holds various tournaments and events throughout the season that students need time to prepare for, but agricultural teacher Matt Hartline said he has been taking advantage of the missed days of school.

“In some ways it’s benefited us because we have kids that want to apply for state or national awards, and when they don’t have school we have can spend that time working on that,” he said.

Hartline said Waterford held a public speaking contest Tuesday evening with 12 participating schools with three that did not show, but he said it’s hard to know if it’s really weather conditions that affect participation.

At Warren High School, a small group of students are gearing up for the Ohio Regional Mock Trial Competition on Friday after one of the school’s team advanced from district competition.

Bad weather put everyone in the same boat, as the other participating school was nearby, but now coach and public defender Ray Smith said they’re just trying to make sure they are as even as possible with their competition.

“We’re at the mercy of the weather and it’s still hindered us,” he said. “We were going to practice last Saturday and we couldn’t because of the snow, so we’ll see what happens.”

Smith said with this being regional competition where the competing schools are from as far away as Cincinnati, he in unsure about how even they are in regards to missed practices because of the weather.

As winter comes to an end, so do winter sports, and both school and independent programs have had to deal with canceling practices in the faces of games and tournaments.

“Since we’re so rural up here, there’s been a 50-50 chance this winter that we’ve had a practice,” said Frontier Local Schools Athletic Director Roger Kirkpatrick. “You can’t force anyone to go to practice in this, so sometimes we’ll either wait until 4 o’clock to practice or we’ll just cancel it.”

Kirkpatrick said the girls varsity basketball games have all been made up, but the district faces four more games for boys basketball that they have rescheduled for later on.

“It’s hard to get into a rhythm because you might go a whole week without playing,” he said. “It takes just one wreck to kill a kid, so we’re not trying to jeopardize their safety, even if it means missing practices.”

In Marietta, where road conditions are a bit better and where students are not as spread out, athletic director Rick Guimond said the district has been fortunate to be able to re-schedule all missed games in a timely manner.

“The drawback this year has been extraordinary,” he said. “We’ve had disruption to schedules, but it is definitely not a unique situation to just us, but to schools across the state.”

Guimond said some middle school games have been canceled without re-scheduling, but with the cost of high school sports and the tournament requirement, the impact is more substantial.

“You want to have accurate statistics,” he said. “I’m sure that the coaches feel that way much more, but it’s something you have to deal with.”

Upward Basketball, a national youth basketball league with a league at the United Church of the Nazarene in Marietta, has been juggling canceled games and practice in the wake of the loss of the program’s director last year.

“Since we’re only an eight-week program we start practices a week or so ahead of time, but we’ve had to cancel practices because of school closings,” said Judy Phillips, director of children’s ministries and current director of the league.

Games run on Saturdays and have been canceled a few times, and Phillips said they are trying to make up at least one game.

Because the program is not locally-based, there is not an option to refund parents because money goes toward the national Upward program.

“It pays for uniforms and awards, so we cannot refund them,” Phillips said. “We try to make sure it’s a well-run program. We’ve already rented out the gym at the high school and booked entertainment for tournaments, so it makes it tricky to move things around for weather.”