Students shake off holiday slumber after 3-week break

2013-01-07T18:17:00Z 2013-01-08T22:06:45Z Students shake off holiday slumber after 3-week breakISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
January 07, 2013 6:17 pm  • 

For 10-year-old Royce Oram, the hardest part about going back to school after the long winter break is going to sleep the night before.

“I got used to staying up a little,” Oram said.

Students in the Napa Valley Unified School District returned to their classrooms Monday following three weeks of winter vacation.

Oram, a student at Irene Snow Elementary School, woke up at 6:30 a.m. Monday to get ready for class. By lunchtime, Oram was already feeling tired — and he wasn’t alone.

“They’ve been a little quiet the first day back. They’re a little sleepy,” said Jennifer Knox, who teaches a fourth- and fifth-grade combination class at Snow.

While some kids struggled to get out of vacation mode, Knox said her students “jumped right in” to their Monday assignments, and seemed excited to be back in school.

“I’ve got the best class ever,” Knox said.

The Napa Valley Unified School District has had a three-week winter break since 2005, when the Board of Education made a controversial vote to lengthen the break from two weeks.

For the majority of board members, district finances were a key factor. Many students from immigrant families were absent in December and January because their families visited Mexico during the holidays — a time when work slows down for most farmworkers.

Since state aid was based on daily student attendance, these absences reduced district funds.

Principal MaryAnn Salinger said “a lot” of students from Snow Elementary go to Mexico during the holiday break, but as of Monday, only two or three were still out of town. When the break was only two weeks long, many more kids were absent the first day back to class, Salinger said.

“It’s not as bad now,” she said.

Salinger said she also lets families know that absences cost the district money. Most families, she said, are “pretty respectful of that.”

While many students traveled out of state over the vacation, plenty of others stayed in California.

Disneyland was a popular destination for several students in Knox’s class. Others said they rode the Pony Express at Knotts Berry Farm, went sledding in Tahoe, or finished reading “The Hunger Games” trilogy.

Ivan Morales, 10, spent the break learning to ice skate at the rink in downtown Napa.

“I fell a lot,” Morales said. “But then I got it.”

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(3) Comments

  1. publiusa
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    publiusa - January 08, 2013 9:12 am
    Imagine returning to a school where the testing scores are below the state level and there is failing comprehension of english, math, history and science.
  2. chunk215
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    chunk215 - January 08, 2013 1:18 pm
    Rough life. 3 week vacation. Those low test scores can partly be blamed on lack of effort by the students. They have too many distractions these days with their little gadgets and a lack of effort. I see it with my girlfriends nephews and its a lack of effort and distractions with parents not being tough enough on their kids. I remember when my dad smashed our Nintendo on the back porch. lol. The kids aren't dumb but they don't care. They'd rather be cool and have stuff.
  3. napa1957
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    napa1957 - January 08, 2013 7:17 pm
    Very true chuck215. I have teachers in my immediate family who spent 2-3 days in their classrooms the week after NY preping and planning for the start of school after vacation. Some kids are not yet back from their extended family vacations, despite the extra time NVUSD has carved out to accommodate them. Some kids are motivated, and happy to be back! Some just don't give a rip and they are the ones who suffer. It ALWAYS comes back to the parents and their involvement with their children and their children's education. The rule is homework first for my grandchildren, then chores if needed, then free time for computer or video games if it's not yet bedtime. Not one of them has low test scores, and are getting honor roll grade status. They're not born geniuses either, but put in the effort and have the support of parents and family. One teacher in a class of 25+ students can't give each child what their parents can in the way of individual help.
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