Though Thursday’s snowfall prompted schools across central Maine to shut down for the day, classes at Forest Hills Consolidated School in Jackman continued as usual, with the snow itself giving some students a reason to come to school using their own transportation.

A snowmobile helmet sits atop student lockers Thursday at Forest Hills High School in Jackman, awaiting the bell and its owner for an after-school ride. Photo courtesy of Principal Thad Lacasse

In the past three years, the kindergarten-12 school hasn’t had a single snow day, according to principal Thad Lacasse.

“We don’t typically cancel for snow,” Lacasse said. “Sometimes we’ll do a two-hour delay in the morning just to get the roads cleared, but I’ve been principal for three years and in my time we haven’t closed for weather.”

The primary reason the school doesn’t shut down has more to do with the proximity of the students than with the severity of the weather, Lacasse said. Most of the 148 students who attend Forest Hills live close to campus.

“We’re very fortunate because our distance of travel is quite small,” Lacasse said. “Our buses don’t have far to travel. Most of our kids live within town. The furthest distance the bus goes one way is 8 miles so a 16-mile round trip isn’t bad.”

However, the school does cancel after-school activities from time to time for the convenience of parents.

“We haven’t had much snow just yet, but sometimes we will cancel after-school activities so parents don’t have to come pick their kids up in bad weather at night,” Lacasse said.

But a handful of students have chosen a more unconventional means of getting to school.

A snowmobiler rides by Mama Bear’s Restaurant as a sign encouraging the Forest Hills High School Tigers illuminates the window on Main Street in Jackman on Feb. 28, 2019. Students also use snowmobiles to get to school. Morning Sentinel file photo Michael G. Seamans

“It depends on the day,” Lacasse said, “but there’s typically two to four students who choose to ride their snowmobiles to school.”

Freshmen Colin Dunning and Brian Snider, who live about 4 miles from Forest Hills, have ridden their snowmobiles to school multiple times over the last two years.

“I’d say it’s pretty much normal to do that up here,” Snider said.

Though Dunning and Snider said they wish they could enjoy the luxury of an occasional day off because of snow, riding a snowmobile to school has its own perks.

“When you’re in school all day, you get to look forward to riding after school,” Dunning said. “Most kids get out of school and have to go back home, then get to go out and ride, but we just go out right from school.”

According to Lacasse, there’s another upside to never canceling school due to weather.

“Without snow days we get out of school this year on June 11,” Lacasse said. “And we never start before Labor Day so the kids have a nice long summer.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.