The entire sixth grade went ice skating today. This is the fourth year in a row that we have taken this trip. Usually it's planned for the day before Winter Break, and it was this year, too, but we got snowed out. What better day to make it up than the one before Spring Break? we thought. It'll be all the fun minus the cold walk up to the rink.
We were half right. A frigid rain fell as we marched our students the three-quarter miles from school to the skating complex, but soggy though they were when we arrived, their enthusiasm was undampened. Over half of them were first time skaters, and 180 kids spent a happy two hours sliding, gliding, and inevitably colliding on the ice. Even our blind student got out there and learned some basics.
Then, for the fourth straight year, there was an injury serious enough for a student to be taken back to school. "Maybe we shouldn't do this trip anymore," I said to the other team leader.
But despite a gash on her hand that would eventually need five stitches, the student who was hurt tried to convince us to let her stay. "We still have thirty minutes of skating and lunch in the food court-- I'm fine!" she assured us, and huge tears of disappointment rolled down her cheeks as we bundled her into the car for the trip back to school.
At the end of the day, the kids had a great time, but I'm still wondering if it was worth it. All the students had turned in signed permission slips with waivers acknowledging that skating can be dangerous, but what level of risk is acceptable? Shouldn't you call it quits if you're pretty sure somebody's going to get hurt?