While millions of metro Atlantans will look back on #SnowJam14 with feelings of anger, frustration, and blame, many Mount Vernon families and faculty will remember the experience as time when the School community came together in support of one another.

On Tuesday, January 28 when the School released students early, several MVPS teachers and administrators stayed well into the evening hours ensuring families were safely reunited. Some teachers walked students home, with one trekking 2+ miles to carry a bottle of water to a stranded grandfather of an Upper School student who needed to take medicine but lacked access to water. Additionally, there were a number of reports of parents, teachers, and staff members abandoning their cars to walk home, to sleep at a hotel, or to stay at a friend’s house. Demonstrating the strong network of communication between families and staff, several Mount Vernon families opened up their own homes to faculty, their children, and other students who could not make the trip home.

Over the next couple of days as the School remained closed due to icy roadways, the news media shared scathing reports about the crisis citing city and state leaders’ lacked preparation and failed to respond accordingly. Recognizing the learning experience this debate presented, one Mount Vernon teacher came up with an idea. Upper School English teacher Meg Cureton who oversees the WriteNOW program, put together a relevant assignment for Upper School students–also shared with Middle Schoolers–so learning might continue at home. Including articles and artifacts as helpful background information, students were asked to write an essay responding to the following:

Introduction: Public officials and meteorologists are at odds over whether or not Atlanta could have been better prepared for the recent snow storm. Read the accompanying information and decide for yourself.

As an engaged citizen, rather than placing blame on a specific group of people, you’ve decided to propose a solution for how this type of disaster could be prevented. Using at least three of the documents below, write an essay exploring what happened, and what needs to happen in the future to assure Atlanta citizens do not have to endure this type of disaster again.

Document #1: Average Snowfall Chart
Document #2: Did Atlanta’s Weather Warning Come Early Enough? (Video)
Document #3: Definitions of Winter Weather Terms
Document #4: The Day We Lost Atlanta (Politico Magazine)
Document #5: Weather Briefing Slides from National Weather Service (including in media gallery below)

As a School we look forward to sharing the student essay responses with the community–who knows, maybe even make a dent with government officials who are no doubt searching for solutions themselves and looking for ways to prevent a crisis like #SnowJam14 from happening again.

If you have some wonderful #SnowJam14 photos from your experiences or from your snow fun, please share them on the Mount Vernon Facebook Page.

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