Impatience, Frustration, Appreciation

When all the phones in my sixth period Spanish 120 class went off simultaneously at 2:53, dread crept up my back. As my teacher continued the lesson, someone performed an under-the-desk text check and the news quietly dispersed: “Emergency ASM at 3:45.” Immediately, worst-case scenarios flittered through the reels of my imagination. Past experiences from emergency school meetings called together a murder of memories: terrorist attacks, student deaths, natural disasters. What could possibly merit Phillips Academy putting a hold on the daily routines we so powerfully abide by? Apparently I was not the only one thrown off by this unknowing. Surging in front of the library were masses of kids, aimlessly throwing I-hear-that’s and what’s-going-on’s around. My friend made an astute observation from our masterful vantage point on the Day Hall stoop: “It’s so funny to see how PA kids react when their schedule gets thrown off.” As we watched the mass migrate from the steps of the OWHL toward Uncommons, my sense of worry grew. Not only was I concerned regarding the reason for this emergency ASM, but I was concerned for the administration. Watching some angry athletes stalk in the direction of the Chapel, I realized that there had better be a good explanation behind this confusion. After a frustrating 45-minute wait filled with a seriously impressive amount of rumors, the students filling the Chapel anxiously awaited an explanation. As the crew boys in the pew behind us began to harass my friend out of restlessness, I found myself getting upset. Why was this taking so long? Of course, even after Mrs. Chase began to speak, an answer was not to be supplied for quite some time. “I’m going to repeat everything twice, so you’ll probably hear everything twice because I’m going to repeat everything. Twice.” Apparently, up on stage, Mrs. Chase was oblivious to the fed-up students rolling their eyes. The only thing Mrs. Chase failed to repeat was the actual content of the threat — the root of the whole debacle; it was quickly quoted and then said again only when requested. Yet the importance of PowerPoint was mentioned at least three times. Beyond my initial shock from the threat of my imminent death, I was upset. Why did we have to wait 45 minutes in semi-pandemonium, and then sit and listen to another 10 minutes of babbling, all to hear about some scribbles in a porta-potty stall? And that’s not to trivialize the threat at all. In fact, I only criticize because I feel the threat should be taken legitimately. If the meeting truly was called in order to inform the community and prevent rumors from spreading, was it really necessary to have us waiting for 45 minutes without knowing anything? Because, as far as I’m concerned, that only further caused stress and rumor to spread. As tedious as it was, after the repetitive question-and-answer session, I did realize the necessity of Mrs. Chase’s redundancy. And of course I appreciated the fact that the school told the students exactly what was going on, and took appropriate measures. While the claim to be lenient on incomplete homework seemed a little ridiculous, the decision to allow kids to miss school depending on their wishes was well met. A death threat is a death threat: whether it is scrawled on the wall of a port-a-potty or sent in video form, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. My only complaint stems from the 45-minutes plus of pent-up anxiety and frustration felt after the initial worry caused by the eerie phone calls. Having to sit in a state of ignorance is unnerving for anyone, let alone students who are so used to being so well-informed and aware of their surroundings. In my opinion, the dramatic buildup only led to frustration and animosity toward a seemingly evasive administration. Since it is my first year at Phillips Academy, I don’t quite know how the school tends to deal with this type of situation. But in light of this year’s occurrences in other close boarding schools, I believe the precautionary measures they have taken are understandable. And while the 24-hour lighting and somewhat creepy security guards outside my window equalsclosed blinds at all times for me, I stick with my initial reaction: better safe than sorry. Hannah Turk is a one-year Upper from Tokyo, Japan.