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Spring Fever Sunny Weather Takes Toll On Spokane School District 81 Makeup Day

Tue., April 8, 1997

Teacher Laural Hepton gave undivided attention to one student in third-period Spanish class at Lewis and Clark High School.

That’s because just one student showed up.

Abe Peterson, 18, sat in an empty classroom at Shadle Park High School watching Hulk Hogan on a TV set that ordinarily shows science videos.

“It’s pretty much boring,” said Peterson. “It’s usually a really fun class.”

Sunny weather took its toll on Spokane School District 81 classrooms Monday - an untimely makeup day for last November’s ice storm.

The makeup day sliced into spring break, which runs through Friday.

Only about a third of high school students actually made up the missed day. Many who skipped didn’t even make up excuses.

“Parents are calling up and excusing them,” said Kim Schneider, attendance secretary at North Central High School. “We have very few kids.”

“I’m surprised,” said Kristy Moore, a PE teacher at Shadle. “Not that many people can be on vacation today.”

Some teachers tried to outsmart potential truants, scheduling interesting field trips for Monday, or tests that couldn’t be made up.

But even some of the best-laid plans backfired.

“Some kids are showing up for that one class and then getting early dismissal,” said Schneider.

Middle schools did a little better, with about half of the students attending. Elementary schools rated best, with 70 percent of children showing up for classes.

Only two students missed Dianne Fischer’s English as a Second Language class at Shaw Middle School.

“They just really enjoy being at school,” said Fischer.

About 250 substitutes replaced absent teachers, many of whom had vacation plans and nonrefundable tickets, administrators said.

Some of the high school teachers who stuck around threw up their hands and improvised, realizing they’d have to repeat any new lessons for the majority of students.

When only eight of 26 students filed into Gary Brown’s Global Studies class at Shadle, he delayed his next lesson until after spring break.

“I’d end up re-teaching the same class again,” he said.

Instead, students started on an assignment the absentees will make up on their own time.

An English teacher at Lewis and Clark tried to lure students to classes with bonus points - while she was vacationing in Florida.

The extra points apparently didn’t help much, said substitute teacher Katie Perkins. Only about a half-dozen students showed up for her first three classes.

“Last hour, the kids said they didn’t need to work on their poetry packets, so they played Pictionary,” Perkins said.

“I’m getting a lot of reading done today, which is pretty much what I’d figured on,” she said, flipping through a paperback copy of “The Tightwad Gazette.”

The district’s last makeup day, June 13, will extend the school year by a day.

Teachers with visions of empty classrooms might take lessons from Linda Irish, a fourth-grade teacher at Sheridan Elementary.

On Monday, Irish wore pajamas and slippers. Her students wore pj’s, too, and shoved aside desks to make room for blankets and pillows. Even the librarian made a guest appearance in kitty slippers.

They ate graham crackers, drank cocoa and spent the day immersed in favorite books.

It was a reading lesson disguised as a pajama party. Not one of her 25 students missed it.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos

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