As Phillies fans celebrated winning the World Series for the first time since 1980 and news that the parade was scheduled for Friday was made public, students and teachers alike had a choice to go to the parade—or school.
Students and teachers alike were both upset that the choice had to be made, and also that the choice interrupted what would have otherwise been a normal school day held on Halloween. However, many fans decided to go to the parade, leading to extremely low attendance rates at East.
On a normal day, the F-wing hallway where students who arrive before 7:50 am stand and mingle is crowded and difficult to get through. Today, it was desolate, with only about thirty people there. In a history class normally containing 25 students, only 18 showed up, and in a driver’s education class normally containing 75 students, only 38 attended. In a chemistry class that normally fills the whole classroom, only 7 students filled the desks. Thus, low attendance on October 31st was frequent.
In an effort to accommodate this lack of attendance, an e-mail was sent out to staff on Thursday saying that it would be a Day 0, meaning no lab would occur. Another message portrayed to students and teachers was that if members of the East community decided to go to the parade in Philadelphia, their absence would not be excused.
Many teachers had mixed feelings about this. Science teacher Ms. Mackley, a Philadelphia native, came to school bitter. She went to the parade in 1980 and sat on her dad’s shoulders.
She said, “It’s difficult not to be there.”
One of her colleagues, Mr. Frockowiak, said he was “too upset to conduct an interview.”
For these teachers who have been fans their whole lives, coming to work at school on Friday was a tough decision.
However, Spanish teacher Sra. Boucher felt that she was “responsible to be here” and that it would be “infantile to call in sick.”
She said, “I’m super excited [the Phillies] won, but I’ll be able to watch the parade on TV when I get home. My job is supposed to be here, with you guys.”
She anticipated Halloween on Friday, anyway, and her lesson plan included showing a video about “El Día de Los Muertos,” (The Day of the Dead), to compare and contrast Mexican culture with the holiday of Halloween, which is part of an element of the standards. When asked what her opinion of the day was, she said it was “not a lost day, but not a progressive day either” in terms of testing and teaching.
Mr. Killion of the math department agreed with Sra. Boucher.
He said, “I try not to abuse sick days because I would feel guilty of gypping students of their education.”
He noticed that student attendance at school on Friday was “half of what it should be,” although students tended to show up in his Calculus classes more than his others because he gave them a test.
Some kids came to school, and then left early to go to the game. Matt Orwitz (’09) came to school, and then left after third period, planning on going to the parade. When he got home, however, his dad had already left to go to Philadelphia. It was a “waste of time” in Orwitz’s mind, especially because the classes he did go to didn’t have more than 10 students in them. He attributed not having any tests or assignments due on Friday to being “the beauty of senior year.” Other students who came to school and left early to go the parade found that when they got to the train station, the line was backed up for a couple hours.
For students who did make it to the event, they did not regret missing school at all.
“I had a really fun time and this could be an event that could very possibly never happen again in my lifetime,” said Andrew Kaplan (’11).
When asked whether or not teachers were willing to accommodate Josh Basak (’10), who went to the parade with some of his school friends, for missing class, he said, “No, not really.”
The experience was different for Sam Kotler (’12), who also went to the parade without regrets. His mother works at The University of Pennsylvania Health System, so Kotler and his mother parked there and then walked to Locust for the parade. He had a literary essay due, and also a math test, but his teacher “gave an option to the students that were there if they wanted to take it.”
Most students who went to the parade have been fans for most of their lives, but Marie Boisvert (’11) has only been a fan since last season.
“I started to watch them last year, and this year I started watching them more because their record was better,” she said.
She traveled to Philadelphia by taking the speedline and subway.
“I saw a couple [of students from East] but there were so many people it was hard to find anybody,” Marie said.
Besides being the day of the Phillies Parade and Halloween, the East girl’s field hockey team also had their last game of the season against cross-town rivals of the Cherry Hill West Lions. An East policy states that in order to play in a sporting event after school, that athlete must be present at least five class periods of the day. Many members of the team were upset, including seniors; although this was their last game of high school field hockey, going to the Phillies Parade was a once in a lifetime experience. Coach Habina and the team had a heated discussion over attendance, and Habina stood firmly behind the policy. In the end, all the seniors came to school and played in the game, and beat Cherry Hill West. Of the three sophomore players that went to the parade, two of them came back to play, but were not allowed to.
Friday October 31, being Halloween and the day of the Philadelphia Phillies’ victory parade, proved to be a day lowly attended by East students, as both students and teachers were faced with the difficult decision of going to the parade or reporting to school.