volume 48, Snow NON-PROFIT ORG. U. S. Postage PAID Permit #6754 Bethesda, MD
February 17, 2010
Walt whitman High school
7100 whittier boulevard
Bethesda, maryland 20817
SNOW SCHOOL! Isnow c y plains of usually only seen in the Arctic
blanketed Maryland starting Friday, Feb. 5. The snow picked up again
Tuesday, Feb. 9, covering the Mid-Atlantic region with a total of more than 34 inches. In response, MCPS cancelled school all week, and the federal government closed for four days. The 55.9 inches of precipitation, measured at Reagan National Airport since December, broke the seasonal record of 54.4 inches set in the winter of 1888-1889. “There had been a strong jet stream to the south with a pattern bringing cold air into the Northeast,” News 4 meteorologist Bob Ryan wrote in an email to the Black & White. “We were in the middle of three unusually strong winter storms tracking off the coast [in addition to] Atlantic moisture and cold air all converging over us.” In the past, the total annual snowfall in and around the district averaged 16-22 inches. This year, in the past two snow storms alone, the area was hit with 34.2 inches. The snowfall from these snowstorms is more comparable to those in Anchorage, AK and Portland, ME said meteorologist Jeff Masters in a Washington Post article. see WINTER page photo by VICTORIA
By Stephanie Haven and Rachel Nussbaum
february 17, 2010
0 1 k 2 n o d d e g a m w o n S Winter snowfall breaks 122-year-old record continued from page
In preparation for the first snowstorm, which began around 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5, MCPS released students two-and-a-half hours early. While snow didn’t begin to accumulate until later that afternoon, heavy snow fell non-stop until sunset the next day and left the area covered in 24 inches of snow. Due to power outages, dangerous road conditions and fallen trees, MCPS announced Sunday Feb. 7 that schools would be closed for Monday and Tuesday. A unanimous shriek of excitement echoed among students in the county; even the administration agreed with the decision. “I did not expect so many days off, but MCPS made the right decision,” principal Alan Goodwin said. “Many streets were still bad, and kids had nowhere to walk or stand for buses.” By Super Bowl Sunday more than 210,000 people in the metropolitan area were without power and some people were forced to vacate their homes because of the cold. “We lost power around 5 a.m. on the sixth after a transformer blew out right near our house,” junior Carter Martin said. “We basically sat around and tried to ignore the fact that the temperature was dropping pretty quickly. It was around 49 degrees when we decided to go to my grandparents’ house to stay the night.” Around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9, MCPS closed
schools for the rest of the week just as the second snowstorm began, bringing blustery winds and blizzardlike conditions. “It was a lot of snow, and we’re not really used to a lot,” junior Eliza Orrick said. “It was annoying because as soon as we would actually, finally finish shoveling out, it would start snowing again.” Because the gusting winds limited visibility, Maryland and D.C. officials had to stop plows until the winds settled. Even though treacherous conditions continued through the next day, Bethesda residents noted that plowing was more efficient than it had been with previous storms where some areas weren’t plowed for days. “I think they did better plowing, quicker than I’ve ever seen before,” Moore said. “[My street] was plowed several times during and after both of the big storms in the last week-and-a-half, which has never happened before.” MCPS opened high schools Saturday to allow community activities over President’s Day weekend as plows continued to move snow off the roads. Most of the area is now plowed out but, in the aftermath of the storm, other practical matters need to be decided— including whether or not to extend the school year. MCPS incorporates four extra days into the school year to allow for snow days. But, with the three days off from the Dec. 19 snow storm and Wednesday Feb. 3 off for a minor snow storm, all snow days were used up before the most recent snow storms even began.
Now, with the extra five days off, the state is deciding whether to reduce the required number of days in the school year so that the county won’t have to extend the year. “One year they extended school days by about 30 minutes to make up for lost time,” Goodwin said. “I assume AP teachers in particular will be pressing on more quickly where possible. The biggest impact is on our athletes who will have to make up a lot in a short period of time.” Even after the plows cleared the school parking lot, mountains of snow remained clustered around the light poles, covering many parking spots. “Parking is going to be limited, and the access road by the baseball field remains hazardous,” Goodwin wrote in an e-mail to WhitNet Feb. 14. “I urge students to take the school bus for the first week back to school or for parents to drop them off if riding the bus is not workable for some reason.” While MCPS parking lots are mostly plowed, hazardous conditions on some community roads continue to cause traffic problems. “It took me three hours to get home when it usually takes me about 45 minutes,” said Moore, who works in the D.C. “It was really bad, so I can imagine it would have been even worse if students had gone to school.”
Making up days becomes major headache for teachers BY JAMIE NORWOOD It’s 1:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and you anxiously open your computer to check the MCPS website. Elated, you send out a mass-text: “NO SCHOOL ALL WEEK!” With over 55 inches of snow this winter – the most Washington has seen in over 100 years – and a staggering 10 days off of school, well above our allotted five, students have some work to do. Teachers are wondering how to make up all of the lost work while students are worried about having to sit in class well past the middle of June. In a Feb. 13 Washington Post article, Maryland Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said school systems should be allowed to dip under the 180-day minimum that state law requires. The final decision is up to the governor. While extending the school year is a possibility, there are other options, according to principal Alan Goodwin. “Because it’s a state-wide emergency, the governor may forgive the days,” he said. “Which makes sense in these economic times because make-up days are expensive.” One make-up day can cost the county up to a million dollars, including transportation and cooling costs, according to Goodwin. If the governor doesn’t excuse the lost days, Goodwin said it’s possible to extend the remaining school days by 30 minutes or an hour. He also urged teachers to make the
transition back to school manageable. “I don’t think teachers should assign new work,” he said. “But they should encourage students to complete previous assignments to lessen the burden of homework when students return.” While homework and assignments will be a little overwhelming for every student the first couple of days back, student athletes will face more of a burden upon return. “Their make-up practices and games will be compressed,” he said. Math teacher Bonnie Duvall assigned homework for the week prior to the blizzard and has been posting additional work on Edline, but isn’t sure how to completely catch up her students. “The course team will meet after the break and decide how to make up the work,” she said. “Much of this depends on MCPS and how many days we’re required to make up.” While teachers are posting assignments on Edline and answering questions through e-mail, AP psychology teacher Marisa Del Savio is trying a new approach.
“I set up a Facebook AP Psych page for discussion of the assignments,” she said. Del Savio is relying on her students to keep up with their work for the week. “I assigned work before the snow and all of my students have a calendar,” she said. “However, in all fairness, I don’t expect students to read beyond this week’s assignments.” AP teachers, especially, are concerned about the time loss and how it will affect AP exam review. “This is pretty catastrophic in terms of getting students ready for the AP exam,” Del Savio said. “The time constraints now necessitate moving through the content quite a bit more quickly.” Psychology teacher Sheryl Freedman agreed, lamenting the lost days usually spent before the exam on more lighthearted activities. “We had a nice cushion of time before the break to review for
the AP exam,” she said. “Now, we may need to take out some of the fun days of activities to adjust for content. It’s unfortunate, but necessary.” English teacher Cynthia Skelton has modified assignments, cutting down a 15 minute presentation to five minutes in order to stay on track with the curriculum Some students have a different view. Sophomore Adam Bloom has been keeping up with his assignments through Edline, but said teachers shouldn’t be posting homework on snow days. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We should be able to enjoy the days off without work.”
Fri, Feb. 5 Hi 37°F Lo 32°F
Sat, Feb. 6 Hi 32°F Lo 21°F
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Snow on Ground
February 17, 2010
Tues, Feb. 9 Wed, Feb. 10 Sun, Feb. 7 Mon, Feb. 8 Hi 31°F Hi 34°F Hi 36°F Hi 31°F Lo 17°F Lo 22°F Lo 21°F Lo 19°F Snowfall
Snow on Ground
Snow on Ground
Snow on Ground
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Snow wreaks havoc on power lines, lives by jessica gelfarb Instead of watching the Saints win the Super Bowl in front of the television, sophomore Sammy Harman and her family huddled around the radio. The Harmans, who were among the more than 210,000 metropolitan area families that lost power during the blizzard, were without electricity or heat for nearly 48 hours. “When the power went out in the morning it started to gradually get colder until we could see our breath,” Harman said. “We shoveled out our entire street to keep warm.” Harman said that the nights were the coldest, with outside temperatures falling far below freezing. “At night it was pitch black but we had to ration out the batteries cause we didn’t know how much longer we wouldn’t have power,” Harman said. “It was nine degrees outside one night, and it was awful.” By the time round two of Snowmaggedon ended on Wednesday afternoon, the winter of 2010 had officially become the snowiest in Washington area history. Throughout the storm, many Bethesda residents were cold and stranded. The 20817 listserv was flooded by threads about the location of Pepco trucks and complaints about unplowed streets. For those with plowed streets and no power, staying in a hotel was often the best option. Senior Leah Chiaverini is one of the many students whose family fled to a hotel. “We lived for 24 hours without power and left when it got down to 45 degrees in the house,” Chiaverini said, still in the hotel. “I’ve just been facebooking.” Senior Katie Goodman and her family stayed at a hotel located in the center of Bethesda.
She and her family also lived without power for a night because they couldn’t get out of their driveway. However, some drivers weren’t as cautious as the Goodmans. Over 700 car accidents occurred as of last Thursday, though none were fatalities, according to Maryland State Police spokesperson Greg Shipley. Still, many residents, like the Harmans, opted to brave the cold and remain in their own homes. Junior Carly Meshter and her freshman brother Nathan lived without power for a few nights, but the cold conditions became dangerous for their neighbor. “My elderly neighbor who also lost power had to be carried out on a stretcher by the National Guard because she was so cold,” she said. “Of course the streets hadn’t been plowed, so it took a lot to get her to a hotel.” Some power outages took even longer than a few days to resolve. After a tree knocked over a power line on Beech Tree Road, three families were left without power for six nights. Even junior Molly Longstreth, who lives within a stone’s throw of a Pepco station, was without power for three nights and had to stay with friends. Sophomore Brent Kruetzberg and senior Kara Kruetzberg’s family stayed at a neighbor’s house for five nights after their power went out. Brent was stranded at another friend’s house for three of those days, but joined his family for the last two nights of their stay. Other families also stayed over because the house was so large. “It was kind of like a vacation,” he said. The huge amounts of snow also posed major problems for senior Maddie Alpert and her family, who had a Chinese exchange student staying with them when the storm hit. The Alpert’s power also went out, and they slept at both a friend’s house and a hotel. Alpert said that the exhange student didn’t like snow and that it was hard to keep her entertained. “She was supposed to do a lot of activites with her program but they all got canceled and the Smithsonian was closed,” Alpert said. “There was really nowhere to go.”
top 5 sledding spots
Kenwood Country Club
9101 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20814
5601 River Road Bethesda, MD 20816
• Wood Acres park
5800 Cromwell Drive Bethesda, MD 20816
Battery Kemble Park
Washington Waldorf School
Garfield St NW Washington, DC 20016
4800 Sangamore Rd Bethesda, MD 20816
photos by VICTORIA
SCORDATO, SARAH CRAIG AND SARAH KLOTZ
feburary 17, 2010
a portrait of precipitation
A student walks across the snow-covered Whitman parking lot. Walking was difficult; the snow often came up above the knees. But the view was worth it. photo by
Icicles formed on the outside of many houses, stretching down from the gutters. Water dripped constantly, coating the pavement beneath, an added hazard during the snowstorms.
Considering the snow their own blank canvas, students got creative, making snowmen, igloos, ice sculputres, snow angels and just about anything else they could think of.
Snow put traffic on hold as Bethesda residents took to the streets to enjoy the snow and the sunny day.
Students enjoyed, what they called, winter break 2.0 by planning a snowball fight in the Whitman parking lot. Several students showed up to either fling slushballs or climb on the mountains of plowed snow.