The joys of spring break

By Judith Victoria Hensley

Plain Thoughts

I never think back over the years of spring break without a smile. As an educator, it was a much needed break for students and teachers. It was a time of renewal, and a time to prepare for the big testing push coming up at the end of the year.

Having been on a school schedule most of my life, spring break always rings a bell with me. It is a time set apart for doing something special that can’t be done when school is in session.

When I was a child growing up in Illinois, my highest hopes for spring break were a trip to Kentucky to visit relatives at a time when redbud, March blooms, and dogwoods might be blooming. In college, spring break meant a mission trip with the BSU Choir with a busload of friends.

For some, it means a trip to the beach every single year. Others stay home, stay up late, and sleep in for a week. For a few, it is a time of spring cleaning, painting, and preparing for summer.

When my son was in school, I always had a great time taking my son and one or the other of his friends to Pigeon Forge for a couple of days over spring break, and catching up on things at home the rest of the time.

If I could change one thing about Kentucky’s schools’ scheduled spring break is that it would be the same week for every school every year. Wouldn’t it be great if all the kids in the state were off at the same time so that families and friends from other locations within the state could plan their spring break activities together?

I literally know of four different weeks in the state for spring break. That makes planning any kind of get together outside of a single school system difficult.

For parents who work outside the school system, spring break also means coordinating with grandparents, friends, or daycare to have children taken care of in the week off from school while they still have to work. It isn’t always easy to find reliable and responsible child care providers for a week-long break.

This year, I spent some time with family and friends in a cabin at Red River Gorge, then went on to northern Kentucky with other friends for some spring bargain shopping. We had a lot of fun. The days flew past. This week my grandchildren are back in school and I’m working toward getting back on a regular schedule.

Spring break used to be based on Easter, so it varied from year to year. Some even called it “Easter Break” instead of “spring break.”

Now, it is more likely to be coordinated with the state test window. No one wants to have spring break a week or two before testing begins. Spring break is a time of refreshing, but between spring break and state testing, it is time to refocus, get serious, work hard, and go into testing with a positive mental attitude and determination to perform well. At least, that’s what teachers hope for.

Once the daylight hours are longer and temperatures increase, children have a tendency to want to be outside doing fun things and not inside cramming more instruction into their brains. To students, spring break signifies that testing is coming, but more importantly, summer is right around the corner.

The older I get, the more I love spring. Watching the dreary grayness of winter mountains slowly return to green with scattered blossoms dotting the landscape gives me hope that things are going to be better. Difficulties are going to fade away, and hope is renewed. I could spend an entire week of spring break driving through the countryside, enjoying the arrival of spring.

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Judith Victoria Hensley at judith99@bellsouth.net or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.