Are We Still Hardcore?

Three minutes before fourth period began on Tuesday, Becky Sykes sent out an e-mail declaring Wednesday the first mid-week snow day in recent school memory. The students with smart phones spread the news through their classes. Freshmen high-fived Seniors. Sitting through the last four periods was almost unbearable. From the time students returned to campus to start winter term, the snow has just been piling up. Look at how snow banks have turned into mountains if you need evidence. To get to class during the January 12th nor’easter, we trudged through over twenty inches of snow. “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” even posted of a picture of a student slogging through the snow on their Tumblr, calling it “Proof that Phillips Academy is very hardcore.” Last Thursday, the student body collectively crossed their fingers, hoping for a snow day. Students awoke to an e-mail announcing a meager thirty-minute delay to the start of classes. This disappointing alternative to a snow day only added to the bleakness of winter term. The ordeals and disappointments we have gone through this term made this Wednesday’s cancellation that much more enjoyable. Regardless of whether or not the amount of snow that fell necessitated a complete shutdown of campus, this snow day was essential for the wellbeing of the student body. The extra time helped us all catch up in our classes and get desperately needed sleep. Enjoying sunlight in the outdoors for the first time in weeks helped to assuage some of our winter blues. While the student reaction to the snow day was overwhelmingly positive, the overall implications of it are more muddled. What remains to be seen is if reversing an age-old policy, and having snow days, will negatively impact perceptions of the school. It will certainly change the perceptions of the student body. People don’t come to Andover for the ease of the course load. In fact, the academic and overall rigor is a major attraction for applicants. Students here tend to be committed and motivated. Even in our euphoria over the snow day, it was the psychological relief from homework and alarm clocks rather than missed classes that excited students. Over time, the intensity of Andover turns into a source of pride. You survive the rigor and then begin to thrive in it. It is a common experience that creates bonds and a communal sense of accomplishment among the student body and between alumni. By the time you graduate, the notion that you made it through the maelstrom together is a source of class and Andover pride. Judging by the visceral reactions of recent alumni, changing the policy on snow days jeopardizes these perceptions of rigor and the pride that they have for Andover. It is not only the Andover community whose perception may be shifted, but also the extramural community. The no snow day policy is like having Saturday classes; both are gimmicks presented by the school to project an image of a strict and intense tradition. Allowing snow days will increase the general perception of Andover as liberal. Yet, doing away with gimmicks like these will actually better represent the school. Andover is at the forefront of modernizing and liberalizing education, and ritualistic policies, such as not having snow days, have no place here. So yes, since the administration reversed their policy on snow days, the perception of Andover will be changed. Students may lose a sense of communal pride, and the world may view Andover differently, but the Administration made the right decision here–the best interest of the students should always take precedence over petty perceptions. This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXIII.