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Author Pamela Sue Gibson Smith


Setting: Two sisters ages 6, and 8 walking in the snow to school. The younger girl has long blond hair in ringlets, the other child with long, straight strawberry hair color. They are dressed in coats hats and boots of 1959 style.

Squeak, crunch, Squeak, crunch, with each step Sue took in the snow, the sound beat in her ears, squeak, crunch. Sue asked her older sister, Why does the snow squeak? Its crusted and hard, because it's so cold, and it has been on the ground for weeks. Replied Sandy.

As they walked to school the sky was becoming cloudy. It was snowing again! "When will spring come?" Sue thought longingly.

When they reached the school, Sue was cold to her bones. Into the old sandstone building she trudged, up the wide staircase and to the right, into her first grade classroom.

Sue walked over to the coat rack, took off her coat, hat, scarf and mitten. She hung them up neatly. Next she sat down and took her rubber snow boots off, and when she stood up, she placed them on the shelf.

The ceilings of the classroom were twice as high as her ceilings at home. The windows were tall and narrow with panes. As she gazed out the window, she noticed the darkness of the sky.

Mr. McElwee, her first grade teacher called the class to order. Sue sat down at her assigned wooden desk.

Soon lessons began as usual, and as usual, Sue's mind began to wander.

Sue imagined herself lying under a tree in late summer, soaking up the aroma of delicious green apples and cool grass under her. The warm sun shinning down, warming her freezing feet.

As the teacher said the word "snowflakes", Sue awoke from her daydream and began to pay attention to Mr. McElwee. Sue was fascinated listening to Mr. McElwee explain why Wilson Bentley was called The Snowflake Man. He looked at snowflakes under a microscope and discovered that each snowflake was different! Each had a different shape, and it had its own unique pattern!

Mr. Bentley discovered snowflakes can be simple prisms, columns, hexagon plates, dendrites, stars, needles, cups, even arrow head shapes!


            The teacher went on to say that some Snowflakes have six sides. Others have eight sides, some are even 12 sided! Every one has its very own distinct pattern and shape! The thought came as a bolt of lightning to Sue’s mind!  "Could this possibly be true?"  "There are billions of snowflakes, so many snowflakes that you couldn't possibly count a handful, let alone all the snowflakes in the sky.  None of the snowflakes are the same? Why are they so unique?" Sue thought.


            Mr. McEllwee was busy passing out paper and explaining how to cut out a snowflake.  If folded correctly, any design that was made would be correct, because no two would be alike! 


Sue focused her attention to the window panes.  Heavy snowflakes were coming down, softly, silently.


            Sue began to fold her paper as Mr. McEllwee instructed.  Next, she took out her scissors, and began cutting and creating, using her right hand and elbow. Sue was missing her lower left arm and hand. At times she felt uncomfortable as other children looked at her while working. She realized she appeared strange to the other children who had both hands. To Sue, it was quite natural to use her elbow, because she was missing her hand at birth.


            Sue glanced around  the room.  She was looking at each of the first grade children, sitting at their desks, cutting out their unique snowflakes.  "Look at each face!, no one looks like anyone else!” She thought. 


“We’re just like snowflakes...”


             "Amazing!" Thought Sue.  "I've been trying to fit in, and be just like the other children, but none of us are just alike!  We're all just like the snowflakes, each is totally different, from inside out!" 


While Sue was cutting her snowflake, she looked up to see if anyone was watching her.  Then she thought again; "I'm as different as a snowflake!" 


Sue glanced over at Sandy.  Sandy had the same name as Sue's sister, but that's where the similarity ended.  Sandy's parents were from China, her skin was a slightly different shade than the rest of the children.  Her hair was as black as licorice. She was friendly, and everyone liked to be her friend.


            There was Patty, her grandparents were from Japan. Patty had black straight hair, her eyes and nose were a different shape, she wasn't like Sandy at all.  Sue remembered that Patty was allergic to milk. Patty was upset with Sue, who thought that all people from Japanese ancestry had milk allergies. “Race has nothing to do with it” Patty had told her.  Sue still felt embarrassed by her lack of knowledge.


            One by one, Sue thought about each child in the class…


Debbie had bright red hair and emerald eyes.


David had short brown “butch” haircut and blue eyes.


Robbie had the same haircut, and eye color, as David, but their faces were different shapes, especially their noses.  Robbie was tall and David was short. They were really not that much alike.


Even Joyce and Jacque who were identical twins were unique. To a stranger they seemed very similar, but Sue could tell them apart. Not by their looks, but their personalities.


Joyce was quiet and shy. She was so much fun if you asked her to play, but she stood back at recess.  If a friend didn't come to her, she was content to be alone. 


Jacque, on the other hand, was just about the friendliest girl in the class. Sue wasn't allowed to sit near Jacque, because they had too much fun together during lesson time.


Sue thought about her own family. All five children were quite different from each other.  LaRene was the oldest.  She was strikingly beautiful with her petite figure. She was a very popular teenager, and always had different friends over. Ruth Ann was just as pretty, she had a few trusted friends.


Sandy's hair had some red and the rest of the family was blond. Sandy had more freckles than Sue.  Sue's brother Stan would rather play with Sandy than Sue.  Stan and Sandy were close in age and always playing tricks on Sue.


They had the same parents but none of them were very alike.


At last Sue’s beautiful snowflake was finished!  There were many snips through the paper. It was intricate and lacy.  As Sue gently laid the snowflake on her desk, she felt proud to put her name on it.


Sue handed the snowflake to Mr. McElwee, who put a string on it. He then hopped up on a stool and hung it from the fluorescent ceiling lights, along with the other student’s snowflakes exclaiming, "Very nice work students! ".


Upon returning to her desk, Sue carefully put the scissors away and scooped the scraps into her hand with her elbow.  She then tossed the scraps into the trashcan.


Sue walked over to the coat rack to prepare for recess.  Sue put on her coat and hat, and then slipped her rubber snow boots on over her shoes. She snapped the bit of elastic around the plastic button of the boots.  On went her mitten.


Sue skipped down the stairs and out to recess, not even thinking of the cold!


Outside the snow was still falling, ever so softly.  She held out her tongue and caught a snowflake. "I wonder what shape that was?" she thought happily.


“Sue!"  Sandy called, "Come and help build a snowman!”


            "I'm coming!" Sue said.  She ran to play with a smile on her face, and joy in her heart.              

 Funding for services provided through STATE OF UTAH DHS Division of Services for People with Disabilities