Mother Nature provided rain on the first morning of school and by 7:00 a.m. traffic was snarled at , where seniors’ parking privileges are suspended.
Long lines of cars idled while windshield wipers snapped away drizzle. Police and security guards attempted to keep things moving along safely, but due to the rain and sheer volume of cars, the wait was long, peaking around the official start of the school day, 7:30 a.m.
At 7:15 a.m. students arriving on foot could be seen bypassing a locked gate in an attempt to take a now-forbidden shortcut past the tennis courts.
According to GHS Director of Security, Tom Bobkowski, those students were greeted by security guards on the southwest corner of campus and sent back to Putnam Avenue.
“Safety is the first priority today,” said Bobkowski, giving a nod to the heavy presence of both police and school security personnel.
A security guard directing traffic said that the three police motorcycles stationed along the double yellow line on Hillside Road were there as a deterrent to parents discharging passengers into active lanes of traffic.
At 7:25 a.m., when two students jumped out of a Lexus and darted across the street, the move didn’t go unnoticed. “Get back in the car. Get back in the car,” a guard shouted, but the students appeared not to hear.
A father of a 9th grader who declined to give his name commented, “It took 20 minutes to get from Putnam Avenue into the drop-off circle. I had been warned, but I never believed it would be this bad.”
Garrett Blackmar-White, a senior from Old Greenwich who left his car at home and rode the bus, confessed he was “mildly perturbed,” but added, “The toxic soil under this campus that is home to 2,700 hundred students is the main priority. Everybody should get over it and just get on the bus.”
Indeed, the discovery of soil contaminated with PCBs during initial construction this summer led to the closing of athletic fields as well as the primary staff parking lot, where piles of “unusual soil” await dispensation. Due to limited parking and priority going to members of staff, seniors with cars are out of luck.
The traffic didn’t subside until 7:45 a.m., 15 minutes after the official start of school, which begged the question: Would students be marked tardy today? (Per to the school’s new attendance policy, three times tardy results in an unexcused absence, which accrues toward a loss of course credit.)
Asked whether students would be marked tardy today, Headmaster Winters responded, “We would never mark a student tardy when the cause is of no fault of their own. No one was marked tardy today and students arriving late because their bus arrives late are never marked tardy.”
Winters added, “While the traffic was very heavy and the buses were very full, we got just about everybody in by 7:35 – not too bad given the weather and the parking lot situation.”
Maybe lenience toward the tardy is the best news of the day. That, and the fact that Irene is but a memory and despite a week-long delay, the school year is officially underway. As of 2:15 p.m., students could cross off the first of 180 mandated school days on the calendar.