Ten students (photo below) and two teachers chaperoning the Parkview Arts/Magnet High School debate team remain in Brooklyn at the New York Brooklyn Bridge Marriot Hotel after the superstorm cancelled 10,000 flights and shut down the city's train and subway systems.
The students who are in New York are seniors Sylvia Raven Cole, Charles Cohen, Tanner Clements, Wilson Jones; juniors Colin Boyd, Ramzee Williams, Claire Frueauff, Deborah Rookey, and Lelia Kerr and sophomore Jordan Borst.
Debate sponsor Patricia Treadway said the students are "fine," and are in high spirits. Parkview administrators here in Little Rock have been in constant contact with the students' parents. Teachers at school were also notified of the students' impending extended absence and will be giving them time to make up lost school work.
The Marriott serves as a designated shelter for the city, and is the headquarters for the FEMA team that is on the ground for this storm. Dr. Dexter Booth, principal at Parkview, said the school will cover the student's expenses for their extended stay. However, those expenses may only include the cost of the additional nights' hotel stay, according to Treadway.
"Jordan Borst's father and stepmother live in New York City and were with us at the trial when we found out that transportation had been shut down. They loaded us up with groceries - so we are well provisioned," said Treadway, who escorted the group to the Empire Mock Trial World Championship debate tournament. Male chaperone and drama specialist Fred Boosey also accompanied the students.
Treadway said she was spending much of her time in the lobby keeping an eye on the teenagers as they chatted and enjoyed the hotel's free WiFi, while Boosey was keeping an eye on the teenagers in their rooms. "They are treating it like an extended vacation," Treadway said.
Treadway said by phone the storm was peaking during a phone call at 2 p.m. Monday, and the noise from it caused her to "close the curtains," on the 14th floor. The storm could not be heard over the phone.
The students were invited to New York for a second year for the Empire Mock International Trials. Only about one percent of debate teams are eligible for the honor. At the time the storm cancelled the event, the team had won an "Outstanding Witness," award in the trials, Treadway said, "At the end of three rounds we have won two trials and tied in one. We expected that we tied on our fourth trial - but the rankings were not out."
Former debate student Stephen Jones, who graduated from Parkview in 2012, and currently attends New York University, went to visit the team shortly before the arrival of hurricane Sandy. When he realized how well fortified the hotel was, he asked to stay and was granted permission.
"The governor said that it would be several days after the storm before transportation recovers," Treadway said. All tunnels and subways are closed and buses are only being used to take people to the city's shelters. The Marriott is being powered by back-up generators.
"It's been an extended sleepover," Treadway said, "You know, this kind of stuff ... you just get through it," she added.
Current plans for the students' return include two flights with five students each, one on Friday, the other, Saturday. The LRSD communications department will provide updates as warranted.