I shut my garage and run up to meet my brother at our mailbox, where he is waiting for me so that we can begin our trek up to the bus stop. My neighbors trail out of their houses like sedated bees, sleepily heading towards the queen bee that is the bright yellow and black body of our bus. As I am hurrying down my driveway to meet my brother, I do something that can only be described in two words: horrifyingly embarrassing. I fall. And not the elegant kind of princess slip, the full-on collision of my body and the ice. My feet come out from underneath me and I land on my backpack with a loud THUD. And as would be expected of him, my wonderful brother goes into a fit of hysterical laughter. My cheeks burn bright red, and I let out a sigh of pain as I struggle to stand up. As I make my way up to the bus stop, my back and pride throb steadily. I sit down and ride the bus in pissed-off silence.

As we arrive at Andover High School, a mere ten minutes after my wipeout in the driveway, I exit my bus. What follows my exit could only further mark an awful Monday to come. At this point, you’ve probably guessed the tragically mortifying event that occurs as soon as my Bean Boots touch the icy concrete: I slip forward, this time letting my hands receive the worst part of the fall. Embarrassment ripples through my body as I quickly stand up. Students who have just witnessed this unfortunate event crumble their faces in sympathy, but continue to walk towards the high school’s double doors.

As another harsh New England winter is upon us, the quantities of ice and snow have begun to expand around the school. This has consequently caused many members of the student body and faculty to have slips and trips on their way into school.

“We do our best to try to keep up with [the sidewalks] and make sure they are taken care of before the students arrive,” said Mr. Cataldo, the high school’s senior custodian. But is that enough?

With falls being the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, should there be more of an awareness on the importance of sidewalk safety?

The answer to this is complicated, as the custodial staff and Principal Conrad are well aware of the hazard that falls on school property can cause. But this hasn’t stopped people from having the same experience as I did on my way into school. Not only are icy falls painful, but they are also detrimental for a student’s self-confidence as they begin their day. Although the sidewalks are being shoveled and iced in the mornings when it is needed, something else must be done in order to prevent injuries, and it is not the responsibility of the custodial staff. A vast majority of students entering the high school are more preoccupied with responding to their Snapchats and other similar programs on their phones than they are about watching where they are going.

A USA Today article published in March 2014 states that one in four car accidents are caused by the use of cellphones while driving. It makes sense that it is a similar case for accidents that occur while walking. As soon as you take your focus away from your surroundings and swipe into a phone, an accident is bound to happen. So while we can put the blame on someone else for that time we fell on the way into school, it is partly up to us. Thus by just paying more attention to where we are going and putting the smartphones down we all might avoid those winter month accidents…and a sore back.

By Sydney Bergan