October snows leave misery for students

HARTFORD, Conn. —Alison Takahashi thought autumn of her senior year would be filled with memories-to-be like the homecoming dance, crossing her fingers over college applications and counting down to graduation from Glastonbury High School.

Instead, the dance is delayed, her graduation date is a question mark and she's squeezing in study time during daylight hours as she — and hundreds of thousands of other Northeast residents — spends days without power after last weekend's snowstorm.

"I feel so disorganized and disoriented because we've been living all over the place," said the 17-year-old Takahashi, whose family has bunked in hotels since losing power Saturday, and who has squeezed in study time for an SAT specialty test in Spanish as part of her application to Georgetown University.

She must take that test Saturday in her high school, where that night's homecoming dance has been postponed and town residents pop in to take showers and recharge their cellphones and computers.

Throughout the region and especially in hard-hit Connecticut, many school districts that lost several snow days to the remnants of Hurricane Irene in August found themselves losing this full week, too, because of snow-related power failures and tree damage.

A handful of districts in New Jersey also remained closed Thursday, leaving those and other districts wondering they would have to cut into vacations to regain the lost days.

Throughout the Northeast, the storm's legacy has left students, working parents and others looking for last-minute baby sitters as power-free day care centers remain closed, or going without access to e-mail and other modern conveniences.

About 675,000 homes and businesses in the Northeast — more than half of them in Connecticut — went without power for a fifth day Thursday. Makeshift relief centers filled with weary parents and restless children.

The number of lost school days is forcing some districts to consider trimming their winter or spring vacations to ensure school doesn't stretch beyond June — a consideration virtually unheard of so early in the academic year.

"It's a difficult situation when you lose five off the bat. It's only November and we haven't even had the real snow yet," said Paul K. Smith, superintendent of Bolton's schools, which were set to remain closed Friday for their fifth consecutive day.