Snow days benefit students in more ways than one



January 31 marked the beginning of National Catholic Schools Week. Typically known for rigorous academics and competitive teams, it’s easy to overlook that Catholic schools stand to tell a truth that turned the world: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and has conquered sin and death. Authentic Catholic education, therefore, proclaims this good turn not in empty mantras or colorful brochures, but in the lived life of the school itself.
Recent weather kept many Catholic school students away from their school buildings. Instead of the traditional Snow Day, most students were home for a Virtual Day. A chance to connect with nature and the created order of things was swapped for more Zoom sessions (some offering tips for bettering mental health!) and online assessments. What a sad contribution to the bleak experience of the many students overwhelmed by the trauma of everyday pandemic life. What a reinforcement of the lie that school and schoolwork is most important. Hence, virtual school at all possible costs!
In a few weeks, schools along the east coast will evaluate this special week and will start improving it for next year. The serious ones may even put a committee together to debate more speakers and assemblies, hallway banners, and prayers to saint-mascots. However, these and other ideas will never connect with students in any meaningful way because they do not turn their worlds.
When students are in darkness — loneliness, deadlines, failures, regrets, fatigue, rejections, missed sports, guilt, messy relationships — they may rationalize giving up. At this point they are in desperate need of an unexpected and unearned turn: the Snow Day. No matter how complacent, fantastic, scary, pressure-filled, or terrible students’ lives are in that very moment, it is in this turn that there is an opportunity for caught breaths, renewed selves, and feelings of excitement, relief, and joy. Indeed, it is exactly in a turn like this that students begin to possess some sense of the world’s one true turn: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and has conquered sin and death.
If Catholic Schools want to better themselves and their communities please give students a turn. Call it a Snow Day.

Craig Cooley, Providence