Sarah St. John, owner of Pinball Wizard in Pelham, is in the midst of a busy two-week stretch. With Massachusetts school vacation last week and New Hampshire school vacation this week, St. John has seen a steady rush of customers at her arcade.
“The two separate weeks really helps us out,” she said. “We don’t get too overcrowded and the days are busier than they normally would be.”
Readers like the fact New Hampshire and Massachusetts schools stagger their vacation weeks. It was one of “603 Reasons” people think New Hampshire\ is special.
New Hampshire students enjoyed the first day of their week off yesterday. Their parents had mixed opinions of the placement of the week.
“I am so glad that the week is different from Massachusetts,” Gloria Lavoie of Salem said. “There are so many places I won't go to when I know that it is school vacation in Massachusetts. I cannot imagine how crazy and busy places would be if both states shared the same vacation week.”
But the scheduling poses a dilemma for for some, including Kristen Rench of Derry.
“It’s difficult to plan things,” she said. “My kids have cousins in Massachusetts they don’t get to see that much. It would be easier if they could spend some time during this week with each other.”
Local school boards are in charge of creating district calendars each year.
“New Hampshire Department of Education has a suggested calendar,” Timberlane School Board Chairman Rob Collins said. “We typically just follow that.”
Judith Fillion, the director of program support for the New Hampshire Department of Education, said there is no academic benefit in having February vacation a week later than Massachusetts does. But there could be economic benefits.
“A lot has to do with ski areas,” she said. “They like it as two separate weeks.”
While all local school districts have this week off, not every New Hampshire school follows the DOE recommendation. Seven New Hampshire school districts, including Bartlett, Conway and Hanover, had last week off.
Collins said it’s important that Timberlane lines up its vacations with those in Pinkerton and Salem.
“A lot of our students go to those schools for some of their vocational programs,” he said. “It would be a problem if they didn’t align.”
Aside from the alignment issue, Collins said he believes New Hampshire parents like it this way.
“It allows New Hampshire families to go enjoy the ski resorts to themselves,” he said. “They don’t have to fight the traffic with other states.”
At Derry Public Library yesterday, about a dozen youngsters enjoyed a cooking class. Several parents there said they appreciate New Hampshire schools having their own week.
“It’s a lot better for activities,” Joelle Johnson of Derry said. “We can go into Boston and go to the aquarium, where it would be really hard to do so last week.”
Trina Silva of Derry said it’s not a big issue deal for her family.
“My kids are young enough where they don’t have friends from Massachusetts,” she said.
On Facebook, Rachael Giallongo said she wished the two states shared the same vacation week.
“Two of my best friends live in Massachusetts and one lives in Maine, so it stinks to have a different week off than them,” she said.
But Lavoie said she wished that New Hampshire went a step further in separating vacation weeks.
“I wouldn't even mind if our counties in New Hampshire had separate winter vacations so I wouldn't be so hesitant to visit children's museums, the movies and other popular winter destinations,” she said.