Sandy’s Effect on Students

8135475073_b7887ddd7d_zBy Leila Vicinelli

In early November, the East Coast woke up to a fresh layer of snow that had coated the many fallen branches and trees that lay on pavements, roads, and lawns due to the fury of Hurricane Sandy. In only the first three months of school, we have already battled against the fierce winds of Sandy, seen an early November snowfall, and felt the brief trembles of an (albeit minor) earthquake. It seems as if the power of Mother Nature has become more present than ever before in our daily lives.

As Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast around October 29, Massachusetts felt her force. Although the devastation caused in Boston was only a fraction of the destruction seen in areas such as New York and New Jersey, the storm forced Winsor (along with many other Boston-area schools) to close school for two whole days. In the aftermath of the storm, many students lost power for several days and had the task of both keeping up with schoolwork sans internet and cleaning up Sandy’s messy remains. Sarah Goodman ’14, who lost power for three days following the storm, recalls her experience as one that “began as an adventure in a sense. I thought it was nice to have to chance to fully ‘unplug’ for a little while. After three days though, it became hard to do homework, as I had no way of connecting to the internet to find my assignments.” Especially as we become more technology-dependent as a school, events such as Sandy demonstrate how this reliance on the internet may be dangerous, because any disruption to the electrical networks may cause a student to fall days behind on homework. Erica Hootstein ’16 is one of the many Winsor students that uses an iPad for the majority of her schoolwork this year. She and her fellow classmates take notes, complete assignments, and even access textbooks and literature from the iPad. She said, “It would have been very difficult to do my work if I had lost power because I need electricity to access my work. A lot of kids in my grade lost power for a while, and it was very hard for them to do work and communicate with their teachers.”  Ms. Labieniec, Director of Studies, says that although there is “no official policy yet” for dealing with times such as this, adds that “during events such as Sandy – when we anticipate power shortages throughout the state – we don’t make assumptions that people will have access to electricity, and we plan the assignments accordingly. As of now we are going by a case by case basis, but it is important that we work out an official policy, especially as we are growing more dependant on technology.”

If such natural disasters repeatedly continue to disrupt our daily lives in the future, how will Winsor and all other schools make up for the lost time? This is a question we hope will not have to be answered in the near future, but – following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – it is certainly one that is on the mind of students on the East Coast. Our dependence on technology will hopefully remain untested this winter; however, if weather-related school cancellations continue to occur at the rate they have so far this year, we may discover that our reliance on electricity to stay connected can be risky. Although Sandy was the worst storm of the fall, Mother Nature still had more in store for New England. We were hit with the first snow of the season only a week later. Days before the storm hit, the temperature rose dramatically, and people were taking out their summer shorts once again. But then a sudden and drastic drop in temperature led us to ask one very important question: what is going on with the weather? Gabriella Cramer ’14 believes that events such as the ones we have seen this fall “force us to think more about what is going wrong in our environment and to reflect on what it is we are doing to aggravate this.”  Many believe that the harmful effects of global warming are to blame for the devastation that has unfurled this autumn, and many more fear that these disasters will only intensify in the years to come. Van Ypersele, the Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, expressed his frustrations about the lack of focus the leaders of the world give to the climate crisis at this year’s UN DOHA Climate Change Conference in Qatar, stating, “I would say please read our reports a little more. And maybe that would help to give a sense of urgency that is lacking.” It seems that although we as individuals should strive to lead “green” and “environmentally sound” lifestyles, the true fight for the preservation of our planet must stem from the various powerful leaders across the planet.