School year coming to a close

ESCANABA – Graduation season and summer vacation will soon be upon us, but for many students school will be out later than expected due to this year’s harsh winter.

By state law school districts were given six snow days this year.

Any extra time lost to school closures had to be made up either at the end of the year or by having classes during the school year when classes weren’t scheduled.

“We only had 1.5 hours to make up due to a delayed start on Friday, Feb. 28,” said Manistique Area Schools Superintendent Kathy McDonough. “As MAS does their professional development days throughout the school year by delayed start Wednesdays, we just needed to go to normal hours on May 14 and May 21 to make up the time.”

The last day for Manistique students is May 30. There will be early dismissals on both May 29 and May 30 due to exams. Emerald Elementary students will be released at 1:20 p.m. and Middle/High School students will be released at 1:30 p.m.

Unlike Manisitique, the majority of area schools weren’t able to avoid adding days to their calendars this year. Escanaba will add two days making the last day June 9, Gladstone will add one day making the last day June 5, Rapid River will add two days making the last day June 6, Bark-River Harris will add one day making the last day June 6, Mid Peninsula will add two days making the last day June 6, and Bay Middle College will add one day making the last day June 9.

“Everybody’s had to put in a little extra time,” said Mid Peninsula School Superintendent Mary Brayak.

Both Rapid River and Bark River-Harris schools had previously scheduled early dismissals on their last days. Instead of having an 11:30 a.m. dismissal time in Rapid River on June 4 as planned, students will be released for summer vacation at 11:30 a.m. on the 6th. Bark River-Harris will release at 1:30 p.m. on June 5 and 6 due to exams.

While districts and their students are not happy about adding extra days to the school year, superintendents recognize that things could have been worse.

“It wasn’t a significant change like they had downstate,” said Michele Lemire, Escanaba Area Schools superintendent, referencing the effects of extreme weather that left thousands without power in the Lower Peninsula this winter.

Only Big Bay de Noc managed to end the year with any snow days left untaken. Students will be released from classes as scheduled on June 5.

“I think we dodged a bullet,” said Big Bay de Noc Superintendent Ken Groh, noting the district had a professional development day the same day many area schools closed. Teachers and staff went to work that day, but students stayed home as planned.

Despite only closing five out of the alloted six days, the district was not immune to the effects on the cold. A pipe burst this winter flooding the school for 10 hours and causing $25,000 in damages.

“We got lucky in that we stayed under the days and we got unlucky in that we had that burst pipe,” said Groh.

No graduations have been rescheduled due to changes in school calendars. Escanaba’s graduation will take place May 23 at 8 p.m., Gladstone’s will be May 24 at 1 p.m., Rapid River’s will be May 24 at 7 p.m., Bark River-Harris’s will be May 22 at 7 p.m., Big Bay de Noc’s will be May 25 at 7 p.m., Manistique’s will be May 23 at 7 p.m., Mid Peninsula’s will be May 24 at 7 p.m., and Bay Middle College’s will be May 22 at 6 p.m.

All ceremonies will take place at their respective schools. The Bay Middle College ceremony will take place in the Bay College Besse Theater.