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Terraset Fifth Graders Pen Thoughts on Snow Day

by RestonNow.com January 7, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,218 8 Comments

Terraset ES students walk to school in snow/Credit: Cindy Chiou-Conlin via FacebookAfter students in teacher Evan Millar’s fifth-grade class at Terraset Elementary School made it into the building Tuesday, they learned a lesson in effective communication.

Forget #CLOSEFCPS, which was briefly trending on Twitter as about four inches of snow fell outside. Fairfax County Public Schools was widely criticized for its decision to start school on time despite the snow. FCPS admitted by Tuesday afternoon that they made the wrong call.

Millar went old school, instructing his students to write their opinions in well-constructed, persuasive essays — using their best vocabulary words — to FCPS Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Platenberg, who is tasked with making the final call on snow days.

Here are a few examples of the fifth-graders’ work:

Dear Mr. Platenberg,

Today it was a snowy and freezing day. I had a rough time getting to school. I think you shouldn’t have opened school today.

I’m going to be 100% honest. When I was at the bus stop, it was very cold and my feet felt like they were going to fall off. I was late for school today because the bus was late. The bus driver was trying to be careful by driving slowly. The bus driver had to because the roads were icy and covered with snow. The bus driver could hardly see anything.

You are kind of in charge of the buses because if school were closed, the buses wouldn’t have come. The cars were slipping and sliding everywhere because of the snow and ice. It was very slippery outside. I fell when I was just walking and I fell on concrete.

I get how you had a very difficult decision to open school or close school. You didn’t have a lot of time to decide. However, people could have gotten hurt or broken something.

Thankfully, I didn’t see anyone, but someone somewhere maybe did.

In conclusion all my reasons say that you should have closed school today (said in a judgy tone).

Sincerely, Kyla

Dear Mr. Platenberg,

Your decision to make Fairfax children go to school today was scandalous. Making kids stand out in the cold like that, mmmm, what would your mother say? That’s just somber!

I believe that you could have made a better choice and let us stay home. We could have been killed because of those sliding cars. The bus stop was going crazy because two cars almost hit each other at the intersection near Soapstone Drive.

Like I said, your decision today was menacing because at my bus stop we were standing there for almost an hour. Many kids, including my sister, were freezing. Also your choice was inconsiderate of other people, mainly the teachers. Who wants to work in almost three inches of snow, and deal with their crazy students at the same time?

I know your decision was based on the time the storm was coming, but I hope you take more consideration next time.


Dear Mr. Platenberg,

It has been a very hard day. It is a cold day and it was very hard to get out of bed. There was just too much snow for you not to cancel school.

I think it is much too dangerous to go to school and this is why. It is very slippery and it is a hazard for cars to drive. I saw two car crashes and I saw a number of people fall and hurt themselves, including me.

I know it was a hard choice to make and that you had very little time. But you should have thought about all the kids that would get hurt. The snow plows would have a very hard time plowing the streets because there are so many more cars on the road. So please think about the kids next time you make a choice like this.

Sincerely, James

Dear Mr. Platenberg,

Today was a rough day to get to school. Because of the snow, our bus was so late that half the people went home. I thought it was dangerous.

I think school should have closed today. Our teacher and principal told us we have full Mondays so that we can have days off of school when it’s a heavy snow day. Well, we had a heavy snow day today.

When my friend Kylia came to pick me up this morning she told us the bus might be late. Well, it was late by almost an hour. Half of the people left and stayed home.

When I walked outside, I saw how thick the snow was. It was like a million gallons of white powder. I thought it was dangerous. We saw a car slipping and spinning in a circle. Also, a little girl was crying because it was too cold outside and she couldn’t feel her feet.
It was terrible and freezing cold. My feet felt really numb. I know it was a last minute choice to pick if school should have been open, but next time please think about what happened today.

Sincerely, Theia

Dear Mr. Platenberg,

Today I had a long, cold walk to school. I think that it was a bad decision to make the county have school today and that it would have been a better decision if you made us not have school today.

I think we should have had school off today because it was dangerous for the people who walk to school, but even more dangerous for all the people who drive.

It was dangerous because there were cars crashing and stuck in snow. My friend and his dad had to push their car up a hill.

It was hard walking to school because the snow was falling and the trees had snow on the branches. Whenever the wind blew, it knocked the branches to the side and made the branches move. The snow went on the path and kept building up. It ended up being a lot of snow that built up. It ended up taking a long time to get to school.

I understand that it was a hard decision and that you had to make the decision early in the morning. It also wasn’t snowing as much either and there wasn’t as much snow on the ground. The news did predict the snow, however.

But think what could happen if one car slipped out of control and made all of the other cars crash and then there were a ton of crashes? Then if a walker passed by and hit a walker and killed them? Even though that wouldn’t probably happen it is a possibility that it could happen. Those are my reasons that we shouldn’t have had school today.


Photo: Terraset ES students walk to school in snow/Credit: Cindy Chiou-Conlin via Facebook

  • Marvin

    Why make the students write a letter to the Assistant Superintendent just so he can get a day off?

  • Cluster Tycoon

    The letter can be condensed to the following:

    But think what could happen if one car slipped out of control and
    made all of the other cars crash and then there were a ton of crashes?
    Then if a walker passed by and hit a walker and killed them? Sincerely, Finn

    Is that in essence of what happened yesterday? In the meantime young people around the world took a chance, literally took life into their own hands to make it to school despite abductions, hijackings, and threats of life. They and their parents knew that the only way to survive in their world is proper education and a commitment to embrace life.

    Honestly, I think the letter needs a complete rewrite.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      CT, I don’t think my kids should have to wait until there are IEDs going off in the streets in order to avoid a dangerous and avoidable trek to school.

  • Mike M

    I hope to teach my kids that bad stuff happens and they CAN deal with it. Think what would happen if we raised a generation of whiners. Message of the week: We live i an uncertain world. Live and learn.

    • Exasperated

      I would think you’d be so proud of the school, teaching these students to write complaints about everything on earth. It’s right up your alley.

      • Mike M

        Gee, I guess you don’t have me pegged after all. I usually have solutions in my comments. Or at least I define the problem. in terms other than “I am inconvenienced.”

  • Evan

    I’m glad a 5th grade writing lesson can provide opportunity for dialogue among such obviously educated and successful individuals!

  • Kabies

    Really Mr. Cluster Tycoon??? Giving tips on how fifth graders should write their letters? Does that make you “smarter then a fifth grader?”? I think not…..


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