’05 Begins Freshmen Year In Wake of Another Tragedy

The Phillips Academy class of 2005 is a class apart. They began their freshman year at Andover on the morning of September 11, and now they are beginning college in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As newly-arrived freshmen at Andover in 2001, the class of 2005 bonded quickly as they were forced to confront the September 11 terrorist attacks, which occurred the very day they began classes at Phillips Academy. Kate Ireland ’05, now a student at Williams College, recalled, “Because we entered new schools in the midst of national disasters, we were a class that turned into ourselves. To a little freshman on September 11, it seemed like the world was falling apart—and who does a freshman, anywhere from 10 to 4000 miles away from his or her family, have to turn to but their classmates? It’s not that ’05 has the most spirit—it’s that we became very close very quickly. Not that we all got along all the time—what family does?—but when the class of 2005 was in trouble or needed help, we turned to each other.” Now the Andover class of 2005 faces a new challenge as they begin college in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. In August, Andrew Heilmann ’05 was preparing to start his freshman year at Tulane University in New Orleans. Recalling his first day at Tulane, Heilmann said, “My parents and I had finally gotten all my bags up to my room on the twelfth floor when a couple of people walked by and told us that there was a change in plans and we would be having an ‘emergency’ meeting in the theater regarding Hurricane Katrina.  The meeting informed us that the evacuations, while not normal, did happen and that the campus would be locked down by 5:00 and we should leave New Orleans as soon as possible.  Thinking I would be back in three days tops, as we all seemed to expect, I only took a small carry-on of clothes and my computer, leaving everything else behind.  As we drove towards Dallas on Sunday morning we learned that this storm might be strong enough to destroy everything in its path.”  After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, classes at Tulane were postponed indefinitely and Heilmann had no school to attend.  Heilmann is now beginning classes at Elon University in North Carolina. Hurricane Katrina has also colored the college experiences of Andover’s ’05 graduates attending schools far from the hurricane’s path. Ireland said of her first days at Williams College, “Williamstown is probably the farthest point possible from New Orleans, both geographically and mentally. However, on my orientation trip, there was a really nice girl from New Orleans. They sent us off into the wilderness to go backpack and bond for a few days before freshman year begins, so while we were all anxiously waiting to get back  to campus to take showers and get on with life, Willa was pretty anxiously waiting to see what (if anything) remained of her hometown. That definitely brought it a lot closer to home.” Chris Zegel ’05, who has recently begun his freshman year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, believes that the class of 2005 is an unusually tight group. Said Zegel, “I cannot believe how close ’05 is staying as a class. We’re so well connected, it’s ridiculous. I’m used to losing connection with at least some people when I’m away for even a short time, but everyone is still talking and visiting each other. I probably saw close to 20 ’05 kids over the summer and into the fall, and even being away in another country, pals are going out of their way to keep in touch. I don’t know if it was a direct result of 9/11 or what, but ’05 as a class has a bond that I’ve never seen in a group that size before. It’s really an amazing thing.”