Snow days: Sliding, hot chocolate and no school

The snow started coming down very early on Jan. 10, and parents throughout Cabarrus County were awakened at or before dawn by an official phone call letting them know school was canceled.

A state of emergency was declared, military bases were closed, local governments were closed and police responded to hundreds of calls for help as snow fell from the mountains to the shore.

But come on! This is the South. Snow does not last long around here. Usually kids have to rush to put on their snow gear just to get a couple of good slides down a hill before it all melts away. At least that is what usually happens in the South.

Kids all around Cabarrus County enjoyed their 5 inches of snow and their day off. But the next day, parents were awakened again at 5 a.m. by the same phone call. Now kids were really flying down those hills, because the snow had turned to ice. And with the temperatures staying below freezing, it did not seem as though it would go away anytime soon.

Tammy Irwin of Concord, parent of elementary and middle-school students, described how she spent her snow days.

"I honestly enjoyed having the kids home extra days," Irwin said. "They played in the snow, played in the fields with their older cousin as well as each other. They also caught up on their chores where they fell behind during the Christmas holiday."

Because of the ice and hazardous roads, schools eventually were closed for the entire week, and then even the makeup day scheduled for the following Saturday was canceled. While some parents enjoyed all the extra time with their kids, some had to scramble to make child-care arrangements so they could finally get to work.

"Thankfully, I have a career that I was able to take both of my children to work with me, so I didn't have any troubles there," Irwin said. "I personally feel that the ... decision to cancel school was needed. I realize all roads weren't bad the entire time school was canceled, but for myself, I wasn't able to even get my car out from under my carport until Thursday late afternoon."

Parents who had no problems with ice in their neighborhood streets were confused as to why school kept getting canceled. Although some roads were completely clear, many, especially in the rural eastern part of the county, were still covered in sheets of ice.

"I truly feel the school (system administration) made the right decision to cancel school this time, and I am appreciative for the safety of the bus drivers, all children, staff and parents that drive their children to school and pick them up," Irwin said.

"As far as the makeups days, we will deal with them as they come. I feel my children's education is extremely important, and we will do what is needed to make sure they get the education they deserve," she said.

That week in January will go down in history as the winter break that no one knew was coming ... and a week filled with snowball fights, play dates and lots and lots of hot chocolate that kids of Cabarrus County will probably never forget.