First reported 1/7/2010 2:42 p.m.

“Yes, we do have school today … Open with the regular schedule, starting 1st period at 8 a.m. Check back tonight for a history of Huskie snow days and some wishful thinking :)”

That was the status update on Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Facebook page shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday morning. By early that afternoon, after more than a dozen comments lamenting and disputing the history of those rare Huskie snow days, the school posted the accompanying list: four days in 137 years. “¡­no coincidence our mascot is a Siberian Husky!” read the school’s own comment on the list.

Despite the forecast of as much as a foot of snow by that morning, OPRF High School and the two local school districts that feed into it ¡ª Oak Park Elementary District 97 and River Forest School District 90 ¡ª were all open to students and staff. The only change we found because of the weather was the cancellation of after-school activities at the 10 schools in District 97.

So there were some long, cold faces among kids showing up for class on what many of them thought might be a snow day in their village. Like Hank Olson’s. The OPRF freshman turned 15 that day.

“He and his brother were up last night hoping by the grace of God that they wouldn’t have to go to school today,” joked his mom, Jessica Mackinnon, about Hank and her older son, Mack, 17.

Mackinnon, who works at Dominican University in River Forest as director of public information, said both boys were up talking and laughing late last night, believing that they wouldn’t have to go to school. But, alas.

Wednesday night on Huskiemail, OPRF had send out an alert to watch for radio announcements in the morning if the building were to close. By 6 a.m. Thursday, the school sent out an e-mail that the building would be open at its regular time, 8 a.m. And, of course, that news was echoed on Facebook, where the comments such as the following were streaming in all morning:

Lucas Vriner: “I live on the east coast now and they close schools for anything. I still brag about my OPRF days when you got ass to school if it took a team of dogs and a sled.”

Tom Sheehan: “Yes one day in 1967 they did close ¡­but then it was the worst snow storm the city had seen in 50 years.”

Rhonda Layman Partusch: “The only time I ever remember school being closed was in the late 60s … you gotta remember …. Huskies are tough and can endure terrible storms!”

Stacey Parkhurst Nunn: “We were let out early once. 1986? When the river flooded and we were asked to go help sandbag … snow days? Never!”

Patty Preston Olejnik: Didn’t close 1984-1988. Real students go to school at OPRF!

Wednesday Journal staff reporter and fastidious fact-checker Bill Dwyer was a freshman at OPRF when the school closed in 1967. That closing, Dwyer notes, was not for a full day. “Following the legendary storm of January 1967, we got just 1/2 a day off,” Bill said in an e-mail to colleagues Thursday morning.

Officials at Oak Park’s elementary school district checked records for District 97’s record. “It looks like the last District 97 snow day was in 2000,” reported Chris Jasculca, D97 spokesman.

At District 90 in River Forest, superintendent Thomas Hagerman told Wednesday Journal: “The only date we could find from recent years was one day in February 2008. When we closed due to bitter cold, not snow.”

Beyond his comments, staff reporter Bill Dwyer contributed to this story.

History of Huskie snow days

In its 137 years, Oak Park and River Forest High School has closed for snow only four times:

  • Tuesday, March 25, 1930 ¡ª 14.2 inches of snow
  • Monday, Jan. 9, 1939 ¡ª 14.9 inches
  • Friday, Jan. 27, 1967 ¡ª 24 inches
  • Monday, Jan. 25, 1979 ¡ª 20.7 inches

SOURCE: OPRF’s Facebook page

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