And now it's mid-September  --  09/15/05

And now it's mid-September...

Sometimes it seems as if summer ends with Labor Day, when school begins...

When I was a kid, school always began on a Wednesday, so you got an extra day off after Labor Day Monday. When Gillian and Jeremy were little, when we lived in Binghamton, NY, I always tried to do one last summer thing with them, usually go to a park and try to get that one last day in before school began.

These days it seems as if more and more school systems are starting back to school before Labor Day.

I don't understand that. I believe that late August starts always were the standard in the South, but now even school systems in New England do it. Probably half of the schools in Rhode Island began the week before Labor Day. It makes no sense to me. Start school, have two or three days of classes and then break for a three day weekend. In our town school begins on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. That's better than beginning a week early, but I still think that Wednesday would be better.

My expectations for school calendars were formed in New York State, where calendars pretty much matched pretty closely from one school district to the next. Much of this was due, I realize in retrospect, to the New York State Regents exams. Throughout most of the twentieth century in New York, high schools gave two different diplomas. One, generally called a "school" or "local" diploma, said that you probably took basic courses plus shop classes or some other minimal content, minimal effort courses. The other diploma was called a Regents diploma and (in addition to having taken more courses than recipients of school diplomas) it meant that you took courses which required passing a state examination.

There was one Regents exam for English, taken at the end of your junior year and representing three years of study. There was a Regents exam for world history (usually sophomore year and one for American history usually junior year). Language courses had Regents exams (although I am now wondering about the accuracy of my memory, because I remember taking a Regents for Latin 1, but I only recall a Regents final for French 2, not for French 1). Science and math courses all had Regents exams. There were also Regents exams for some of the business courses as well (but I never took any so please don't ask me to remember what they were now that *cough* several years have passed).

Anyway, the point of this is that each exam was to be given on a given specified date and time in June. That put a stake in the sand marking the absolute end of the school year. Take the date of the first day of Regents exams, take into account the state requirement for a minimum of 180 days of school, guess how many snow days you were likely to have and end up with a figure of, say, 185 scheduled days to be sure of getting in your 180, add in various holidays, and that usually brought you to a couple of days after Labor Day.

Like most states, Rhode Island has no equivalent of New York State's system of state-mandated final exams, so they are not locked into a common ending date. Some schools start before Labor Day, some after Labor Day. Many just schedule 180 days. They make no provision for snow days. What do they do if they have to close for a day due to a winter storm? They simply add another day to the scheduled closing date. Given a snowy winter like the one we had this past school year, many schools finished their school year three or four days later than they had originally planned.
Gillian and Tiger playing
So now we are nearing the end of the second week of school and the weather has been pure bright summertime throughout this period. There were maybe three or four mornings when there was enough coolness in the air to make it clear that we were in the waning days of summer, but then summer heat returned. A few days ago we even tied the record high for that date. This has been a dry summer, almost no rain -- yes, after that cold, wet spring, day after damp and chilly and rainy day, we balanced things off by having a sunny drought. Today, however, that changed -- the weather babblers have been babbling about a cold front and a warm front and whatever, but the result was a very foggy morning followed by rain, heavy at times, followed by more rain, heavy at times, lather, rinse, repeat. Now they say that Ophelia may push some rain onto us for the weekend. I hope it clears away as early as possible because the plan is for Adam and Leah and Sammy to come up for a visit and it would be fun to get to a beach with Sammy.

I've been busy lately... ah yes, but I'm always busy... I think it's been Katrina and the aftermath and I think, just as back last fall with politics and the election, I got very involved in following news reports and various blogs and such, to the degree where it ate up my computer time...

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