Schools offer heat relief

Friday marked the second day of school for many local districts, but already children were sweating
Third-grader Ahmed Reifenheiser braces himself as he runs into a sprinkler to keep cool outside the Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs on Friday afternoon.
Third-grader Ahmed Reifenheiser braces himself as he runs into a sprinkler to keep cool outside the Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs on Friday afternoon.

Friday marked the second day of school for many local districts, but already children were sweating it out at their desks even before teachers had time to learn their names and call on them for answers to math problems.

Children and adults alike were feeling the heat on Friday, when temperatures climbed to only two degrees short of the record high of 91 degrees set in 1973. Average early September temperatures hover around 75 degrees. But Friday’s breezes blew some of the worst heat right out of town.

“Conditions were ripe for record highs but there was a stiff southerly breeze blowing, bringing good circulation before the storms come,” Bob Kilpatrick, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albany, said.

By early afternoon, some students with sympathetic teachers and principals were released from classrooms to play outdoors on school grounds.

Easily the luckiest students in the area were the 60 teenagers from the Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs who spent Friday boating on Lake George. Called a “convocation trip,” the annual start-of-school event is designed to promote togetherness among students in grades nine through 12. The daylong event included canoeing and swimming.

Youngsters in the Waldorf Early Childhood Center in Saratoga Springs, which includes students from kindergarten through eighth grade, didn’t have a lake to jump into, but they were allowed to play outside on the shaded lawn. “We have a very old brick building that actually stays pretty cool, but in the heat we send them outside and sometimes even set up a sprinkler,” Lisa Daigle, office manager for the early childhood school, said. “Not much work gets done out there, but they can eat their lunches outside.”

POOL available

In the Greater Amsterdam City School District, some middle school students at the Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy were able to take a dunk in the school’s indoor pool Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, Principal John Penman hit the hallways to check on conditions on each floor of the building.

“I’m wearing a tie and I’m walking around the halls and in the cafeteria to see how it feels and how kids are doing,” Penman said. “If it becomes too hot on the upper floors, we move the students downstairs. Our gym is also downstairs so that stays cooler.”

Penman said that while he hadn’t seen too many beet-red faces, if students reached the point of being uncomfortably warm, the school could supply them with water bottles in their classrooms.

Schenectady High School students didn’t have to brave the heat for more than a few hours. Their back-to-school orientation is done on a half-day schedule, which kept them in class for either the morning or the afternoon on Friday.

Elementary school children had a full day but were watched carefully for signs of overheating.

“They’re sent for more trips to the water fountain,” said Terri Cavacciolo, nurse at Schenectady City School District’s Steinmetz Center.

“We catch the kids before there’s an issue related to the heat.”

A few computer labs in Schenectady city schools have air conditioning but rooms and hallways where students sometimes walk elbow-to-elbow can become stifling.

Cavacciolo said the best idea is to forgo the new clothes purchased for the new school year and rely on the leftover summer wardrobe.

“Don’t let kids wear those new jeans and beautiful sweaters,” Cavacciolo said. “Save them for October.”

Not all students suffered in the heat Friday. Geoffrey Kidder of Malta, a senior at Ballston Spa High School, said his school, built a few years ago, has central air conditioning, which made his classrooms feel like summer was already over.

“The teachers crank the air up until it’s actually cold in the rooms,” Kidder said. “But then I went to work in the afternoon and it was hot outside.”


This morning, you’re likely to be seeing steady rain, a side effect of Tropical Storm Hanna, bringing downpours that could, in the worst-case scenario, result in flooding.

“Fortunately, the tropical storm will lose its steam and the big deal around here will be possible flooding, especially in urban areas where there may be drainage problems,” Kilpatrick said. “Rain will be heaviest in the morning and afternoon Saturday, with areas east of Albany the worst hit.”

The National Weather Center has issued advisories for both Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike, anticipated to descend on the Bahamas by Sunday. Hanna was expected to touch land overnight Friday in the Carolinas, then head up Interstate 95, dropping heavy rain and carrying gusting wind as far as Boston.

One bright side to the rain and winds is that they’re likely to blow the heat and humidity right out of the Capital Region, bringing the quintessential early autumn conditions people look forward to all year. “There will be pleasant air and lots of sunshine; nothing oppressive,” Kilpatrick said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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