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Ice endangers pedestrians on campus

Liana Sonenclar

You step onto the sidewalk on a cold January morning, hood up, snow boots on, scarf wrapped around your neck. You really thought today was going to be a snow day, so your morning was already off to a bad start when suddenly, your feet lose traction. You experience the stomach-sinking sensation of slipping across a sheet of black ice that you didn’t see until you were already halfway to landing none-too-gracefully on your bottom on the cold wet pavement.

If you have ever found yourself in this scenario, you are not alone. One in three Staples students who responded to an online survey through the school’s gmail say that they have fallen in the parking lots walking to or from school this year.

“I was walking out up to the front door and I looked ahead to make sure there wasn’t any ice ahead, when out of nowhere, a patch of ice that blended in perfectly with the sidewalk in front of the front door appeared,” one Staples junior who asked to be unnamed said.  “My feet kicked forward while my head got thrown backwards, smashing my body to the sidewalk and throwing all of the books in my bag all over the place.”

In addition to causing embarrassment and injury, some students have suffered property damage.

“Last year, one of my friends slipped at school, fell, scraped her hands, and completely broke her brand new iPhone. Not cracked- broken,” Jaydah Cannon ’16 said.

“The snow removal is adequate (not great), but there is usually a layer of ice under the snow that seems to be ignored,” science teacher David Rollison said.

Students say there are even certain areas they now avoid for fear of falling. Olivia Jones ’15 mentions a few particularly bad spots.

“I was walking down the ramp by the entrance to the theatre hallway and fell right on my butt,” she said. Walking from the Wakeman parking areas also is treacherous, she added.

However, these incidents are not always reported to the administration. After a particularly icy day in December, Principal  John Dodig said that he did not receive a single complaint about conditions on the Staples grounds.

John Horrigan, Westport teachers’ union president, is in charge of fielding issues between the staff and the  administration. Horrigan says he believes that the administration does a good job of keeping parking lots safe for students and teachers and that they respond to complaints efficiently.

“It’s in their best interest to keep it safe — it’s complicated if a teacher gets injured, so the administration doesn’t want to deal with it. They are invested in making sure it’s safe.”

If such an injury were to occur, there are methods in place to ensure that the teacher is heard and the problem is taken care of.

“If a teacher does notice unsafe situations, they should tell the principal, and if it still doesn’t get resolved, they should take a picture and send it to one of the union presidents.”

Horrigan says that, so far, he has received no such pictures.

“Our custodians begin working early in the morning to clear the sidewalks, paths and lots to make it safe,” Dodig said.

However, the administration can only maintain the parking lots on school property. Two-thirds of surveyed students say they know someone who has gotten into a weather-related car accident commuting to school, and eight out of 10 say they have, at one point or another, felt unsafe commuting themselves.

“Every year in the winter, someone comes to class late saying there were accidents all down the roads,” Cannon said. Cannon also says that at times, she has opted to stay home on a school day because she felt it was dangerous out.

Not everyone feels as strongly. Simon Berger ’17 said, “I have occasionally felt a little unsafe coming to school in a car or bus due to ice, although I trusted my parents or bus driver.”

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About the Contributors
Ellie Gavin, Staff Writer
Most people would not compare journalism to sailing. At first glance, the two activities could not be less similar: one involves being in a boat, while the other involves thinking of creative headlines. For Ellie Gavin ’14, however, it’s a different story. Gavin has been sailing for as long as she can remember, she tells me one sunny afternoon in August. When Gavin speaks, her hands mirror the bright tone of her voice, with animated gesticulations aplenty. Gavin explains that she loves the decision-making aspect of sailing, and anticipates bringing some of these skills to Inklings. Like any good journalist, Gavin has an angle – she hopes to expose the truth and make people think, and she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. When I ask her if she’s nervous about being a brand-new member of Inklings, she pauses for the first time in our conversation. “A few years ago, I was sailing, nowhere near land, and there was a big storm,” Gavin said. “To get through something scary, the worst thing you can do is back down. Keep doing what you’d be doing if you were in a more comfortable situation.” Be it a storm or a tough interview, Gavin’s going to keep on sailing.
Jessica Gross, A&E Editor
Most kids might shy away from new experiences and dread trying something they’ve never done before, but not Jessica Gross ’15. “I’m totally open to new things,” said Gross, “Actually, I love trying new things.” And it makes perfect sense. The A&E Page Editor has lived in Hong Kong, been to Paris to see a rock concert, and even attended a Berklee College summer program for the performing arts. While she indulges her passion for performing arts through her involvement in Staples Players and her love for journalism in Inklings, Gross’ guilty pleasure is baking. Whether it’s for friends, family, teammates or co-workers, she is always able to put her own spin on any traditional treat. And it’s not just her friends who take note of her knack for baking; even her boss at the restaurant she works at has remarked on her talent, adding a dessert special to his menu featuring Gross’ homemade cookies and brownies. She has even ventured as far as making mini key lime pies, a favorite on the menu. When someone has so many different passions, it’s hard to pick their proudest moment. However, Gross’ came to mind easily: “My band and I opened up for Paul Simon at a concert,” she said, “it was incredible.” Gross is actually the lead singer for that band, created at the School of Rock in Fairfield. Few musicians were invited to join the band at School of Rock, only those with rare talent made the cut. Whether it is finding an interesting topic to cover for Inklings, practicing with her band to get the best sound, or even baking a delicious snack, Gross does it all with flair. So as she embarks on her senior year, take note of her name, because who knows, Jessica Gross might be headlining a tour, opening up a bakery, or even writing for The New York Times in the near future.
Liana Sonenclar, Photo Editor
For Liana Sonenclar ’14, a photograph isn’t just a distant picture taken carelessly with the fumbling push of a button. It’s not busywork; it’s not an afterthought. A photograph, to Sonenclar, is an experience, a careful experience, that captures not only an image, but also an emotion. “This year, I’m encouraging photographers to get close to their subjects,” Sonenclar said. “Be a part of the event.” Sonenclar, after taking photos for nearly every print edition of Inklings last year, is starting this year as the Photo Editor for the staff, a position that comes with its fair share of responsibility. In addition to taking as many photos as she did last year, Sonenclar is now in charge of making sure all the other photographers know what to capture. To make this easier, Sonenclar is starting a photographic recruitment process of sorts, hand-selecting artists and photographers that she knows are reliable and asking them to join her crew. “New people provide new talent, new variety,” Sonenclar said. “I want to change things up, to make every issue interesting.” And Sonenclar certainly has some experience in getting interesting photographs. While taking photos last year for Inklings, she also served as a Staff Photographer for the Westport Daily Voice as well as now starting this year as the official photographer for the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk. However, photography is just one of Sonenclar’s undertakings. She also plays piano for Wreckers In Tune, is actively working on a science research project, is one of the Executive Editors and Producers of QED and a member of the French Honor Society, all while balancing nine Advanced Placement courses over her high school tenure.

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