Many private schools hold snow-makeup day

May 31, 1994|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,Sun Staff Writer

Had it been a gloomy day, Kristin Raneri might not have looked so glum. But yesterday was splendidly sunny, and Kristin wanted to be back at the ocean.

"I went to the beach and had fun," she said when asked about her weekend.

What was she going to do yesterday? "Not have fun and study for exams," she said.

Kristin, an eighth-grader at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, came to school on Memorial Day. Thousands of other area students did the same. Although public schools were closed yesterday, several private schools opened to make up a snow day. "This was of course not greeted with hurrahs or huge applause," said A. H. Bishop III, headmaster of Boys' Latin School.

"But, let's face it, I had seven days off this winter."

Most people didn't seem to mind too much that it was time to pay one back, even on a day when the only ice was in cold drinks and snowballs.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," said Tricia Hayden, a science teacher at Roland Park's lower school, at the end of the day. "Up until about four years ago, Memorial Day was a regular school day. So I think a lot of us were used to coming in on Memorial Day."

Some parents, including Kristin's, cut short long weekends at the beach so their children could attend classes.

Others, such as Liz Schroeder, president of the parents' group at Garrison Forest in Owings Mills, honored holiday commitments and kept their children out of school.

Still others, among them Helen Passano, with two daughters at Roland Park and one at Calvert School, merely welcomed a day of solitude.

"I will tell you," Mrs. Passano said, laughing, "in this family I cherish the days I get to myself."

Absenteeism varied. At Boys' Latin lower and middle schools, it was minimal. But at the upper school, it was 25 percent.

At Roland Park Country School, it was 16 percent, compared with an average of 2 percent.

"We realized there'd be some people with long-standing family plans for the weekend," said Gayle Latshaw, director of public relations.

"That is something we understand."

Mrs. Schroeder, president of the parents' group at Garrison Forest, and her family, including daughter Libby, a ninth-grader, spent the day in Pittsburgh at a family reunion. Mrs. Schroeder said it had been planned for 16 months.

It was a question of priorities, she said: School on Memorial Day or a rare reunion with elderly parents and family.

"And still my daughter's angry with us because she's missing some exam review," Mrs. Schroeder said.

Mrs. Passano, whose daughters attend Calvert and Roland Park -- and attended yesterday -- understands that sentiment.

Her middle child was invited to the beach and declined, Mrs. Passano said, because she wanted to study for her two hardest exams Friday.

"This is usually a very low-key holiday," Mrs. Passano said. "After Memorial Day there are final exams in all these schools. This is a week I try to keep everybody in a Baltimore frame of mind."

There is time for the beach all summer, Mrs. Passano said.

Try telling that to Kristin Raneri. Her family returned a day early from Bethany Beach, Del., so that she and her sister, Reagan, a ninth-grader at Roland Park, could attend classes.

"The only reason we did," said Lori Raneri, their mother, "is I thought it'd be sending them the wrong message that our vacation is more important than school."

Did Ms. Raneri mind leaving the beach? "Yeah, I did," she said, laughing. "But I would never say anything bad about Roland Park Country School."

She planned to take advantage of the day by shopping. "I really want to redo a bathroom, so I'm going out to look at tile," she said.

"And I'm going to the dry cleaner's and do all kinds of fun stuff I never seem to get around to doing."

When her daughters come home from school, she said, they'll want their parents to take them to the pool for the Memorial Day cookout.

"But I'd like them to begin to look in their books," Ms. Raneri said, mindful of approaching exams. "So I think we'll miss the cookout at the pool and just have one in our back yard, just the four of us.

"That will really excite them."

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