The Blizzard Trip of '78
Arbor Hills students shared a secret snowy adventure
During the winter of 1978, a group of Arbor Hills Junior High students, along with their teachers and chaperones, were heading off for the school's annual trip to Washington D.C., unaware that at that very same moment a ferocious blizzard was beginning to take shape in the Midwest.
The Arbor Hills kids & teachers enjoyed two days of sightseeing in D.C. before the storm reached the East Coast, and then 12 inches of snow shut down everything in the nation's capitol. So while some Sylvanians were shoveling out through ten-foot high snow drifts, others were anxiously waiting by their phones, wondering what was happening to those Arbor Hills students in D.C., not knowing if they were safe, or stranded alone somewhere in the storm.
It turned out that those Sylvania youngsters were just fine...and they were not alone. Hundreds of 7th and 8th grade students from all across the country were all stranded together for several days in one big, very happy hotel. The hotel even had tunnels below that the students quickly discovered led to an inside, underground mall which, deserted due to the snowstorm, turned into an amazing new playground for young people with nothing to do, and nowhere to go.
The teachers retreated to their own floor and played guitar, while the kids were pretty much on their own. It was kids-gone-wild, "Brady Bunch" style. Food was scarce, vending machines were emptied, toilets overflowed, phone systems blew... and these young men and women were having the time of their lives. Piles of students stretched out in hallways, laughing and singing camp songs or anything by "The Eagles." Echos of "We are the Champions" could be heard on every floor of the huge hotel, all of which the students explored with the excitement that comes with sudden, unexpected freedom.
If one could imagine the best moments of "Ferris Bueller's Day off" mixed with an 8th-grade version of "Animal House," the scene just might resemble the junior high students' experience that, now grown and in their fifties, still gives many of those Arbor Hills alumni a secret smile and a chuckle on particularly snowy, blizzardy days.
Back in Sylvania, the blizzard was paralyzing all of Northwest Ohio. Arbor Hills principal Larry Morrison, who had stayed behind, made his way through the snow to his office at the junior high. He answered the phone all day and night, assuring parents that their children were safe and would eventually return.
Which they did, of course, the following week, with a few extra souvenirs, and oh, what a tale to tell.
(Editor's note: Wink and a nod to Sylvania's class of '83... Some day, one of us WILL make that movie. )