Gimme a Break
The very words “Spring Break” envoke visions of beaches, road trips and much-deserved frivolity.
While many folks from throughout the national descend on our valley for Spring Break fun, local residents are more likely to seek out warmer climates for their holiday. As far as timing goes, Eagle County Schools have scheduled a relatively late spring break, in part because next week’s school vacation is actually the second weeklong break for local students.
Eagle County Schools are less-than-traditional with that two break schedule. In February, students and staff were off for a break that kicked on President’s Day. Next week marks the school districts mid-April break – which celebrates the (near) end of the ski season. Vail’s closing day is April 19 and Beaver Creek will close for the season on April 12.
There have been complaints that the local breaks don’t coincide with other family members’ breaks – with college-age kids or extended family living in other areas. Other parents love the breaks, saying they get better travel deals in April, and that their businesses or work slows down at that time.
For high school kids, the April break interrupts spring sports, but you will be hard pressed to find a high school student who wants to complain about a weeklong school faction. Some family have found February and April are perfect times to visit colleges and meet with university staff members, instead of trying to coordinating visits during May when campuses around the country are empty.
Eagle County Schools Superintendent Jason Glass doesn’t deny that scheduling school holidays can be is a touchy subject.
“Perhaps the two most contentious things that happen within a school system are the decisions around snow days and determining the school calendar,” he said.
The current school calendar is described as a “modified traditional calendar.” Schools starts in the fall and ends around Memorial Day, with a long summer break. However there are some unique Eagle County specific calendar considerations.
“Overall, we’re trying to create a calendar that balances academics with the many opportunities our kids and families have to enjoy life in our beautiful community,” said Glass.
Glass noted that the local calendar decisions don’t come easily. Eagle County Schools has a committee that works on the calendar, and members set the dates for two to three years at a time so families can make long-term plans.
Recently, the calendars were up for review, so surveys were sent out to community members, parents and employees to determine preferences and revisit the number of calendar options. An interesting discovery came out of the staff surveys, which showed there is a high level of burn-out for kids between the beginning of the year and the Thanksgiving break. Looking at the calendar, that stretch of time was far and away the longest uninterrupted block of time in school. So, the committee made a change for the upcoming calendar in October.
“We added an October break just to try and take a little wear and tear off of our teachers and other employees,” said Glass.
Since there isn’t a great deal of research to demonstrate that one calendar is more academically sound than another, Glass noted the local committee does its best for the kids.
“Mostly, research tells us that kids from more affluent backgrounds have lots of educational opportunities over the summer. By contrast, kids from more disadvantaged backgrounds tend to slide in terms of achievement over the summer break,” said Glass. “For us, this means having lots of engaging educational activities available during those summer months.”
“We are really fortunate to have groups like the Youth Foundation, Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center, WECMRD, and Walking Mountains (just to name a few) here to support that,”said Glass.
Enjoying Spring Break with our new friends ….
The Assmussen family of Eagle just returned from a Spring Break holiday in Playa de Carmen in Mexico. With daughters Brooke and Megan in college, the family’s vacation followed a more traditional Spring Break schedule.
When they arrived in Mexico, the resort was hopping — in large part because of some special guests. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were staying at the same spot as the Assmussens.
“They were all around, the whole time we were there,” said Laurie Assmussen. “The swim suit fashion show was packed.”
Greetings from Craig ….
Lane Dobransky is a bull-rider, and he like to spend Spring Breaks in the arena.
He was named after the iconic bull rider of the 1980s – Lane Frost. He loves everything about rodeo. When the gate opens, he gets a rush of adrenaline from feeling the massive animal move under him.
“Last year, I went up to Craig for a rodeo. Honestly, I love school breaks as much as the next student, but I would almost rather school stay in session and let us out earlier for summer break,” he said. “My personal favorite moment is when I climb over the gate and sit in the chute, it’s always an amazing high that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said.
Considering his love of rodeo, Dobransky would prefer more time in class during the spring if it means an earlier summer break. More summer means more rodeo. His
plan after graduation next year is to enlist in the Army, and then come home to rodeo and study agriculture
EVHS teacher Nicole Dewell, her husband, and her two daughters stayed home last year during the April break due to ski races for her oldest daughter.
“The mid-April break works well for us,” said Dewell. “Our girls play for Vail Valley Soccer Club but as CYSL (the soccer league) doesn’t recognize anyone’s spring breaks, we just work with Front Range coaches to reschedule games.”
This year, the family is planning a trip within drivable distance, somewhere warm. They also like to raft in April, but that’s not the plan this year. As for the school calendar from a teacher’s point of view? “The current breaks seem to work well,” said Dewell. “Academically, it seems to work.”
Wish you were with us in Cozumel…
EVHS teacher/coach Kylan Kottenstette spent Spring Breack 2014 Cozumel, Mexico with his wife, Lisa’s family.
“Mid-April is a good time to get away since I finish my coaching the last week in March,” said Kottenstette. “My wife alternates which breaks she is able to get off so about every other year she will be able to take that time off with me.”
This year, Kottenstette’s plan is to stay home and catch up on work around the house since Lisa will be working. He will also be working on lesson plans to prepare for the remainder of the school year. He thinks the calendar works for area. “I believe the breaks help the students to focus when they return,” he said. “February allows the students to enjoy the amenities of living in a mountain town, such as skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding. In April, it’s nice for the students to get out and enjoy the spring time weather so that they are not as distracted by it for the remainder of the school year.”