COMMENTARY: "Message in a Bottle"
Where has the summer gone...
For What it's Worth:
I know many will disagree with me but I don't like the decision of most Rhode Island school districts, including East Providence, to start school before Labor Day. The argument by proponents is that due to snow-days, the school year can be extended well toward the end of June. So what! In Rhode Island the number of school snow days can vary from zero to several. While the end of June can be very warm so can the end of August or early September! My belief is based on the premise that Rhode Island - The Ocean State - offers more leisure time in late August/early September than it does for a week and a half in June.
Most in Rhode Island cannot afford exotic vacations like European travel, etc. For many families an annual vacation usually comprises of a trip to the beach or camp site or maybe a trek to the New Hampshire lakes region. There are many other get-aways for people but I think going to the beach is something anyone can do. A two week beach house rental on a local shore is generally rejuvenating for families getting ready to face a long grey winter. If families can't afford a beach house rental, several day trips to the beach can work.
My objection to this change is also one of economics. As one who spends a lot of the summer boating and with time on Rhode Island beaches, I have noticed a drastic change after the second week of August in recent years. Now that schools open before Labor Day, parents are forced to do back-to-school shopping earlier than ever before. Other arrangements are made for return to school logistics and the beach resort areas quiet down. There are less beach house rentals as families obviously won't rent a beach house through Labor Day if the kids are back to school. Weekends may stay somewhat busy on a hot day in early September, but the beaches are quieter most days in late August.
School starting before Labor Day means all school-related activities begin even earlier. Band and sports practice have to gear up, teachers have to start preparing earlier and kids haven't enjoyed any down time from hectic activities like little league and other camp activities. It's like someone flipped a switch and summer is over way too early. Gone is the smooth transition from hot summer to "Indian Summer" to Fall.
I stopped in and talked to a well known South County, RI beach realty firm and found support for my theory. While reluctant to say business wasn't good, they did confirm that late August beach house rentals have dropped considerably with the change in school year. Local beach area restaurants and souvenir shops also tail off. Not good for business and tourism I say.
I guess in the big scheme of things, my lament of the shortening of summertime isn't a match for other problems in the world. I can hear many of you saying, "too bad Rodericks, move on with the times!" On the other hand with all the worries of society today, maybe rushing our traditional rite of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer isn't a good idea after all.
(Bob Rodericks is a Feature Writer for this paper. The views expressed in this commentary are his own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.)