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The Milton Measure

Cancellation Snowverkill

Record snowfall delays start of second semester

by on Friday, February 20th, 2015

Even as senior spring becomes a reality to the Class of 2015, the balmy springtime weather is still many weeks away. Once the warmth and sunshine does arrive, it will have to work overtime to clear the snow drifts lining New England’s streets.

As of February 12th, Boston had received over six and a half feet of snow, according to the Washington Post, as opposed to the average of two feet. Although not the snowiest winter on record (1996 saw nine feet), these snow totals are still quite considerable, especially given that winter isn’t anywhere near over and that the weather until late January was (relatively) warm and dry. In fact, five and a half feet of this winter’s total snow has fallen since January 27th, breaking numerous records along the way, including the most snow in a week, in 20 days, in 30 days, in 40 days—and, at this rate, probably in 50 days, given that we have a few more storms on the horizon.

Many students think of snow days as a sunny patch in the otherwise dreary weather. With five snow days and one late start, this winter has granted Milton students the greatest number of snow days Mr. Ruiz, Dean of Students, has encountered since he joined Milton.

The first three (January 27th, January 28th, and February 2nd) hit squarely during exam week, occupying all of the days post-exam that the school designates for cases just like this one. “Having a couple of extra days to study was great,” says Julia Rogoff (II). However, studying was not generally high on the snow day priorities; Julia Carabatsos (II) watched High School Musical, a group of Norris boys made snow forts, and Alison Bodner (I) “spent most of the day sleeping.” The Outdoor Program offered snowshoeing and indoor climbing for those “going a little stir crazy” on campus.

With all of the ways in which stressed Milton students can unwind during a snow day, it’s hardly a surprise that Jesse Conway (I) explained she would be thrilled to receive more snow days—provided that there was no danger of cutting into any vacation time. (Mr. Ruiz has stated that because Milton is a private school and because so many of the snow days were during exam week, the chances of a shorter vacation are slim, so you can all exhale.) Although concern has been circulating that students are behind in schoolwork because of the snow days, both Alison and Izzy Dunn (I) feel that their classes are on schedule.

So what’s the catch? Like the New Englanders many of us are, we do love to complain about the snow itself. Jodie Mustin (I), from England, described it as a “harsh, chilly welcome to the United States.” According to Mr. Ruiz, some of the buildings on campus have sprung leaks because of the heavy snow. The Centre Street entrance of the Student Center had to be cordoned off on Wednesday, February 11th, because of a particularly dramatic snow accumulation that posed a safety risk. Campus Safety, aided by the boys of Norris, has also had to work incredibly hard to clear paths of snow and ice: Mr Hackett, Director of Campus Safety, said that “officers were required to work twelve hour shifts in order to ensure coverage of the campus. Some officers who live locally were able go sleep at home. Other officers who needed to travel decided to stay on campus and sleep in order to be available for their next shift.”

Because Milton’s middle and lower schools are all day students, Mr. Ruiz and the other members of administration have to be especially attentive to the challenges of commuting in snowy weather: a specially formed committee has to take into account the condition of the roads and the state of public transport. Advised by people such as Mr. Hackett; Ms. O’Toole, Director of Human Resources; Mr. Hines, Director of Flik Dining Services; and Mr. Carter, K-8 Principal; Mr. Bland makes the ultimate decision—and then every single phone owned by anyone even remotely related to you will receive a text. And a call. And a voicemail.

The voicemails and texts themselves are a source of joy to students, and not only because they promise a Netflix- and hot chocolate-filled evening. That calm monotone has become a guru to some, prompting them to ask themselves the difficult questions (“am I essential?”) and to tap into their own musical inclinations. Although the first few were unremarkable, the messages’ sass increased rapidly as the snow piled high. The change began with nothing more than a wryly enunciated “again” and then progressed to a cheerful promise to “do this again next week” (that is, Presidents’ Day); in the most recent voicemail, students were serenaded with a specially-adapted rendition of Rude, by Magic!.

Bryan Price, Chief Information Officer, is the voice behind the shenanigans, saying that he required only “two takes” before sending out his heartbreakingly beautiful recording of the song. He explains modestly that although he’s given “more or less what to say,” his messages are unscripted. “People find out in so many different ways anyway,” he says, and it’s because the phone call seems so antiquated or even unnecessary that he feels it should be “at least somewhat interesting.”

When asked about the reaction he’s elicited, Mr. Price admits that he didn’t expect students to care; it was the parents’ reaction, rather, that he was concerned about. In general, Mr. Price hasn’t heard much, since “most people think it was Mr. Ruiz. I congratulated him yesterday when I saw him.”

Both Julia and Izzy were amused by the voicemails, but they also attributed them to Mr. Ruiz, who added that some parents have emailed him praise. Some students have even begged him to perform at the next Beatnik; not one to let his (misguided) fans down, he is considering rapping a duet with Mr. Price in the event of another snow day. When asked whether he’d consider a performance, he said, “I’m not sure students really want to hear me sing. Beatnick is certainly one of my favorite student activities and I would be excited to participate.”

“People apparently thought it was funny or entertaining, so that’s great, because it’s all been silly,” says Mr. Price. “There’s been so much snow, so many school days off… why not try to add a little bit of amusement to the whole thing?”

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