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Warming up to education: Teachers, organizations help students bundle up

Roosevelt Elementary students bundle up Thursday for recess in Dickinson.

Winter temperatures have been warmer than usual for parts of the year, but area elementary staffers say Dickinson's digits have some oil boom parents pulling their kids out of the classroom and retreating to hotter climates.

Lincoln Elementary Principal Del Quigley has seen oil families surrender to the chill and return to their former home states as early as October.

"I've had a couple families that have gone back because they just were unable to tolerate the cold," Quigley said.

Quigley added that some parents are unsure of how to dress for frigid temperatures, and their kids often show up to school with insufficient winter clothing.

"It's just a matter of getting (parents) to understand that when I'm talking about a parka or a heavy coat, I'm not talking about a coat that would be considered heavy in Texas," he said. "They have to get a really warm coat."

At the same time, Quigley tries to put himself in parents' shoes.

"I've visited Texas and I've visited Florida, and when it was 110 degrees outside, I wanted to leave too," he chuckled.

Most families decide to brave the cold because there is a lot of money to be made in the oil fields, Quigley said.

In addition to working with kids in the classroom, Quigley said teachers are making sure children who continue attending school in Dickinson are bundled up.

"We talk to the children," Quigley said. "And we get them snow pants, whatever they need."

The school's Lincoln Parent Advisory Committee usually helps to provide warmer clothing for students who need it, Quigley said.

"My parent advisory group had some money set aside that we used to buy snow pants, or a big coat, or hats and mittens," he said.

Quigley also said outside organizations have stepped in to help students dress for the cold. The Dickinson Optimist Club has been helpful in providing warmth for students during Christmas.

Lincoln Elementary is not the only school that has seen oil families leave because of the cold. Roosevelt Elementary Principal Henry Mack said he too has seen wives and children leave, while dads stay on the oil rigs.

"We've heard of a family or two that have gone back because it was too cold here," Mack said. "They said it's just too cold up here."