The early morning light attempting to pry my eyes open seems somehow different, a penetrating greenish blue. Suddenly the truth hits me and I snap up in bed and look out my window. In the very early morning light, the layer of snow on the roof over the kitchen looks thicker than it has been in ages. I glance at my clock and notice it’s 6:15. I usually leave by 6:40. No time for a shower; I shave, dress and pack my things and am outside in less than 10 minutes. Only one side of the street has been plowed – my side, as it happens, and I work to break up and move large, heavy chunks of wet snow from the end of the driveway, musing on the fact that my local school district – and probably most other public schools – has no doubt cancelled classes. Throwing the shovel in the back of the car before leaving, since my driveway will probably be plowed in again on my return, I text my son and call my wife to say “Good morning!” Half a mile from home, a car heading uphill has gotten stuck smack in the middle of the railroad tracks. This is not a Good Omen. After the driver shovels out beneath the front tires, he manages to back safely away, and I continue my way down the Mohawk Trail to school, following traffic that slows down at times to as little as 13 mph (later, I will learn there was a snow emergency in my neighboring town and I wasn’t even supposed to be out). I can’t help but think I really should have stayed home.

A bit later, as I head to homeroom, I glumly remember the last time we didn’t have a snow day (being a boarding-day school, we “never” get snow days) and the 7th graders complained right through homeroom and partway into Humanities class. I’m tired. This is not how I want the day to start.

“Any student announcements?” I ask hopefully and am greeted with cheerful voices and questions about whether community service will go off campus this afternoon (“Probably not” ) and whether the basketball team is still travelling to Connecticut (“Wait and see.”). We begin class with one of the students reading from her story, and the reactions from the other students are uniformly positive and encouraging. I read to them from the two different novels I am proposing for our next “morning reading” book. They seem engrossed by Firegirl by Tony Abbott, going “Ewwwww!” when the character Jeff pretends to drink blood, asking their usual flood of questions. Was it real blood? Was his mom angry with him for spilling cranberry juice all over his shirt? Who had to wash it? Is Jessica Feeney “Firegirl”? Why do they have to wear blazers in that school? Why can’t they take them off? Is it an all-boys school? Is the narrator a boy or a girl? (“The narrator likes cars,” one of them said, “But…”) They choose Firegirl by a 7-2 margin. I ask them to upload more pictures of their Harlem Renaissance person and record more comments (“We pretend we’re our person, right?”) on the VoiceThreads they share with partners from The Cathedral School. Then they have blissful choice time, as I decided we really need a day off from scriptwriting. Most either work on their stories or read their independent reading. One of them pulls up a chair near the heater, plops a pillow on the counter, puts up her feet, and periodically gazes past her laptop to the steadily falling snow outside.

After advisory, my office mate, Catherine, and I are working through email as the system, down all morning, is finally working. Two 8th graders and a 9th grader from my advisory group last year appear at the door. As I infer that their Pointe class is not meeting, they say, “Ann’s not here. What do we do?” I call Ann, but either she is not home or, more likely, she doesn’t have phone service. Catherine, who took ballet in college, tells them to work up a 45-second-long snow dance to show Ann tomorrow. They look at each other, smile, say “Okay!” and run into the classroom to get started. “How totally cool is this?!” I think to myself.

Shortly after, they call Catherine and me in to watch a short run-through. It’s a bit raggedy – though the music (“Waltz of the Snowflakes” from “The Nutcracker” of course) is already started, they can’t quite remember in which direction they make their first gesture, they nearly run into each other when they choose two different directions for the circling part of the piece, and it just kind of tails off at the end. Catherine playfully channels her inner Russian ballet teacher, and they agree to tighten it up a bit. While Catherine and I watch, they try out different ideas, different moves, different combinations. They try it again. “37 seconds,” says Catherine, “You’re almost there.” “Let’s roll around in the snow!” Let’s make a snowman!” they shout and as I almost-but-not-quite open my mouth to express skepticism, magically, without a moment’s hesitation, one snowball at a time, a snowman appears before me with the “head” snowball cupping its chin in its hands and smiling. “Okay, we think we’ve got it. Go. Let us rehearse,” they say. Catherine and I return to our office, with Catherine calling out over her shoulder “I’m going to email Ann and tell her to ask to see it!” “Nooooooooooooo!” they fake-moan. “Yes,” I say with a twinkle in my voice.

Catherine is called away, so I witness the final version alone. It is beautiful, flows well from part to part, each turn executed with careful timing, with a whole new section following the snowman. As they grab hands stage left and I realize they are about to dance center stage and make their final curtsy, I wish it would never end. “That’s beautiful,” I tell them. “Ann’s going to love it.”

Service is cancelled, and I don’t have rock band tonight because I am driving out to see my son’s last basketball game of the year. I have no commitments holding me here. Yet I am dawdling in my office just a little longer than I need to. Just one more pass through my email and Twitter feed. Well, maybe two…

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