Blizzard Prompts Sykes to Call Off Tuesday Classes

In response to the 20 inches of snow that fell on Andover in the “Blizzard of 2003,” the Phillips Academy administration cancelled all classes on Tuesday and declared a “snow say.” Although a snow say last occurred two years ago, this is only the third such day at Andover in 22 years. After several hours of deliberation, Acting Head of School Rebecca Sykes e-mailed students and faculty on Monday night with the message, “Classes will not meet.” Although students greeted the note with cheers from students, many families expressed disappointment that the decision had come so late. Consequently, many day students had already made arrangements to stay on campus overnight so that they could attend classes on Tuesday. As yet, it is unclear whether the missed day of classes will be rescheduled. According to Director of Business Services Susan Stott, who was instrumental in the snow day decision, “There has been some discussion about trying to make it up. But to my knowledge, a decision has not been made yet.” Although classes did not meet, interscholastic sports held practices as usual and the Community Service Department project ARC met as regularly scheduled. In both e-mail and voicemail messages left to the entire community, day students were urged to use discretion while driving on icy roads en route to campus activities. Administrators made the decision to cancel classes because many believed that the snow storm would continue throughout the day on Tuesday. Fortunately, the snow stopped abruptly early Tuesday morning, allowing plows to begin clearing roads before the morning commute. Throughout the long weekend, Mrs. Stott, along with members of the Head of School’s office and the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP), used information from the Weather Channel and to analyze the situation and make their decision about whether or not to hold classes. Many boarders who had left campus for the Mid-Winter Holiday long weekend could not make it back to school in time for regularly scheduled Tuesday classes. Mrs. Stott estimated that only 400 boarding students were on campus Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, many students who had traveled by plane were still trapped in various cities across the country and many students who remained in the Andover area were unable to drive back to PA because of slippery roads. The blizzard also prevented several school-sponsored trips from making it home on time as well. Instead of flying back to campus on Sunday afternoon, the PA Model United Nations (PAMUN) club took an all-night train from Washington to Boston to reach campus before the worst of the storm on Monday. However, the Fidelio Chorus trip to Florida was unable to find a flight back to campus and remained stranded in the Sunshine State until Thursday. After the snowfall, grounds crews under the direction of OPP Grounds and Vehicle Manager Stephen Tolley attended quickly to PA’s campus. “Our grounds crew has done a super job of cleaning the campus,” Mrs. Stott said. “They were out there for 36 hours straight working as hard as they could.” The storm hit the entire East Coast and set a new snowfall record in Boston of 27.5 inches. Monday’s snowfall edged out famed blizzard of 1978 which dropped 27.1 inches on the city. The storm has been blamed for more than forty deaths.