by Andie Conlon
Rumors and legends constantly buzz throughout Chadwick School, passed down from sibling to sibling. Some stories are romantic: teachers falling in love and running away to exotic places. Others are simply outrageous: the headmaster is a “were-bull” and grazes on the Main Lawn during a full moon.
Some are scary: the Village bathroom is haunted. Some have to do with ordinary events that have taken on an “extraordinary” quality as they fade into Chadwick history.
Such is the case with “the Evacuation Plan,” a concept originated by and proposed to Chadwick’s student body by Chadwick graduate Chris Conlon ’09.
Conlon, currently a student at Whitman College, describes the inspiration for his plan.
“Assemblies were too darn long, you know… I realized that one of the biggest obstacles was that people were really, really stupidly evacuating the amphitheater. They were kind of like chickens trying to leave the chicken coop, bumping into each other, and not doing it in a very efficient manner,” said Conlon.
During his senior year, Conlon took it upon himself to find a solution to the chaos that followed each assembly. He designed a protocol for evacuating the amphitheater after assemblies and presented his ideas to the student body.
“The simple plan is that you want to get away from choke points as fast as possible. And so, rather than walk up the stairs so that you can get out of the amphitheater immediately, you walk down to either the main stage area, or up in to one of the wider walkways,” said Conlon.
Conlon’s Plan was very popular among students who were in the Upper School at that time. Junior Zach Blickensderfer recalls the Plan as “a noble effort to organize the chaotic exodus that ensues at the end of every Monday and Friday assembly.”
Unfortunately for Conlon, the actual implementation of the Plan never really caught on. “The one time we did it, it worked really well,” he said.
Some students would disagree. “I remember a while back when we tried it, it only caused more confusion,” said sophmore Bryan Renslo.
“That’s one of the pervading myths about my evacuation plan—is that its complicated,” said Conlon.
Upon graduation, Conlon appealed to the rising juniors and seniors to carry on with the plan. Many current freshmen and sophmore, however, appear to be unaware of the Plan’s existence.
When asked if the Plan should be reinstituted, students responded in a variety of ways.
Senior Jaye Buchbinder said, “I definitely think the evacuation plan should be reinstated—since we have failed to teach it to both the freshman and sophmore classes, it has become increasingly difficult to leave the amphitheater.”
Junior Abby Mendez said, “Yes, because certain staircases have become clogged with students leaving after assembly, while others are ignored.”
Blickensderfer said, “Chris’s brainchild must never die!”
Still, many students echoed this viewpoint expressed by Junior Erin Figel: “I think ‘reinstated’ implies that it was once followed, and honestly, I don’t think anyone ever actually did it. But I could be wrong.”
When told that his evacuation plan had been abandoned, Conlon said, “They’re stubborn.” He prefers to talk about his other accomplishments at Chadwick School, especially his role in the creation of “the Lounge,” a sub-forum that contained many of his FirstClass posts.
“It is my belief that any form of communication is enhanced when it isn’t serious all the time. For a while I was the only one who made any posts that were unrelated to academicsposts that were creative, funny, or surreal. So eventually, the Student Council felt my posts needed to be contained,” said Conlon.
Meanwhile, at Whitman College, Conlon has discovered new opportunities to put himself in front of a microphone (he admits that his announcements were one of the reasons assemblies ran long). He performs stand-up comedy, helped to create a documentary about a middle-aged women’s roller-derby team and hosts his own radio show, called, “Sleep Loss,” which features live readings of scary and/or disturbing short stories.
As usual, Conlon continues to put forward new ideas. “I’m interested in war paint catching on as just a casual thing,” he said, “It’s a really good way to shield your eyes from glare and the sun. I don’t see why people don’t just wear it all the time.”
Conlon is pursuing a joint degree in math and computer science and will be spending his summer at Washington University in St. Louis conducting research in the field of computer science.