The Ultimate Effect: Changes Made to Curriculum, Athletic Calendars


Rebecca Bregman

The week of school lost due to Hurricane Sandy used up days allotted for school cancellations and left the school with two days to make up. The missed time may also affect whether or not students receive an April break.

On Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the East Coast and left many without power, heat, or shelter. Weeks later, Sandy’s effects continue to cause problems for the Staples community.

The week of school lost due to Sandy used up the three days allotted in the calendar for school cancellations and left the school with two instructional days that still need to be made up. To make things worse, winter has yet to arrive, and according to Westport weather enthusiast Jacob Meisel ’13 and The Farmer’s Almanac, this winter has the potential to bring multiple snowstorms.

Taking all of this into account, Superintendent Elliot Landon is recommending to the Board of Education that days of April vacation be sacrificed. The Board will make a final decision on Dec. 3.

“I think each day is too valuable,” Landon said, who was reluctant to add days onto the end of the school year, considering them less productive than those earlier in the year. Some, however, expressed at a recent Board of Education meeting that four months of school with no break will bring about the same inattention from students.

Landon further supported sacrificing April vacation days to give AP students at Staples and students taking state standardized tests an adequate amount of time to prepare, a notion that Principal John Dodig agrees is important.

“Half the nation starts before we do,” said Dodig, “We’re already behind. This just makes it worse.”

For this reason, Landon plans on writing a letter to the appropriate educational officials asking for the administration of AP tests to be pushed back a week, to accommodate not just Staples but all schools adversely affected by the hurricane.

However AP Calculus teacher Robin Sacilotto credits an earlier August start this year in keeping her class on track even with the storm, stating she is not far behind in the curriculum. Sacilloto added that she was worried about student attendance if days were taken from April vacation because of possible pre-existing vacation plans.

“If a large enough student percentage was absent, I could review during that time but I could not continue teaching the curriculum,” Sacilotto said.

Landon, though, felt that there was enough time between now and April break for families to cancel any reservations, though he acknowledged that this decision may have some critics.

“Any decision that a superintendent makes generally has those in support of the decision and those opposed. I think you have to recommend what you think is right,” said Landon.

Although there is uncertainty regarding the calendar for the remainder of the year, some single semester classes are currently feeling the crunch for time. Jessica Fields ’14, who is enrolled in Research and Literature, said that as soon as school reconvened after Sandy, her class had to start writing the research paper with less time between due dates than some would have liked. However Fields also emphasized that teachers have been accommodating, allowing in class time to work.

While many problems that arose due to hurricane Sandy had no satisfying solutions for everyone involved, Landon, at a recent Board of Ed meeting, acknowledged this point:

“Nobody said this was going to be easy.”