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When a ‘snow day’ is a ‘go day’!

March 2, 2018
Snow day at Ballard

When a ‘snow day’ is a ‘go day’!

I am writing this on the second day of an enforced school closure owing to the severe weather conditions. Yesterday, our first ‘snow day’, required me to be in school before 6.30am to view conditions ‘on the ground’ (actually ‘on the snow’), to look out for the weather warnings and then to consult a few other colleagues before sending out the inevitable ‘group call’ to parents and staff announcing we were closed. Today it was easier – we decided yesterday in view of the forecast to close today – but it’s somewhat lonelier as it is just me and the Head Caterer in school. (I’m trying to stay on top of emails and the Caterer is deciding what food can be frozen even more and what needs to be discarded…at least I have my lunch sorted!)


Memories of snow days at Ballard

I do so hope that parents and pupils are taking the opportunity to make some memories over these extraordinary days out of school. We last had a snow day in January 2013 (when several staff came into school to clear the paths in order to keep some of the school open for the GCSE ‘mocks’) and so for many children this will be their first opportunity in their home locality to have some fun outside! I came across a couple of our Y11s yesterday who had spent the morning and early afternoon working on their GCSEs and were now in school enjoying the space and freedom to throw snow balls!

Snow day 2018

Some eager Y11 boys have turned up at school desperate to get on with some work.

When I taught at Glenalmond College (‘Coll’) in Perthshire, the Head (actually called the Warden at ‘Coll’) was able to call two or three ‘ski days’ in the Easter Term. This meant that the boarding school was declared closed (apart from the limping and the lame) at short notice and we made our way to Glenshee or Aviemore to have fun on the slopes. The front of the College (‘the slopes’) became an impromptu bobsleigh run and, invariably, the Almond river which wound its way round the College 200 acre estate, froze in part allowing for some tentative skating.

My only negative memory of snowfall in Perthshire was the year when all the staff were back at ‘Coll’ awaiting the pupils returning from the Christmas holidays. Heavy snow fell the day before term re-opened and the College was cut off for three days. The electricity failed and we had what some called ‘a wartime spirit’ of bonhomie and shared meals in the school kitchens – the only warm part of the estate. This was all very well but one of the top sportsmen in my House – an ace athlete and hockey player – attempted to return to the College but slipped outside Perth railway station, broke his leg and was ‘off games’ for the whole of the hockey season!

Our water gardens... under snow!

Our water gardens… under snow!

A snow poem for you

In keeping with World Book Day, I offer you this ‘snow poem’ – with apologies to the American poet, Robert Frost (aptly named):

           Stopping by Ballard woods on a Snowy Day

(after ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, 1922)

1.       Ballard woods these are, I think I should know.

The School is hidden by a blanket, though

Pupils will not see me stopping here

To watch the grounds fill up with snow.

2.       My wonderful staff must think its queer

To come to School without pupils near

Between our woods and frozen lake

The snowiest day of the year.

3.       We give the break-time bell a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

4.       The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises of work to keep,

And emails to do before I sleep,

And emails to do before I sleep.

So, make a snowman, throw some snowballs, sledge down a slope (perhaps use one of those tin trays from your kitchen) and enjoy this break which has come on the cusp of Spring!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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