Government Shutdown Shakes Up Hockaday

Federal closures across the country affected several trips planned for months throughout the community 

When Congress failed to resolve the dis­pute over the Pa­tient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as ObamaCare), the U.S. government shut down Oct. 1. After more than two weeks, it reopened Oct. 17, when Presi­dent Barack Obama signed the bill to reopen the U.S. govern­ment and raise the debt ceil­ing. The closures affected millions of people—not ex­empting some members of the Hockaday community. Trips planned months before the shutdown were postponed, cancelled or, in some cases, changed for the better.

Civil Disobedience

History Department Chair Steve Kramer had scheduled his American Civil War class to fly to Washington, D.C. from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13 to visit vari­ous battlefield sites, including Harper’s Ferry, Antietam and Gettysburg. However, due to the shutdown, the plans were put on hold.

Kramer cancelled the mu­seum, hotel and airline reser­vations and did not officially schedule the trip for another date until the federal govern­ment had reopened. The trip also requires 10 people for the trip to make, and it remained doubtful if all of the students could travel on the resched­uled weekend. But the new dates in December actually al­low more girls to take the trip because early college applica­tion deadlines have passed.

Twelve seniors—Ali As­ton, Anna Dyer, Grace Gilker, Samantha Kim, Devon Knott, Meredith Mihalopoulos, Molly Montgomery, Gretchen O’Brien, Caitlin Sellers, Christine Smith, Sarah Startz and Alexandra Vil­lareal—and two chaperones— Kramer and Lower School teacher Karen Roberts—will take the trip from Dec. 5 to Dec. 8 and visit the same sites as originally planned.

“No matter how oblivious you are to the news of the world, you find out about the govern­ment shutdown,” Gilker said.

Seashore No More

Since the beginning of the summer, Katie McKnight, Food and Catering Adminis­trative Assistant, planned to go to Corpus Christi with her boyfriend Oct. 12-14 to visit South Texas Botanical Gar­dens and Nature Center, Lex­ington ship and Padre Island National Seashore.

The morning she intended to visit the seashore, though, she discovered it was closed due to the shutdown. “I was kind of mad,” McKnight said. “I realized the shutdown doesn’t really affect you until it hap­pens to you.”

But she found an alterna­tive, instead spending the day at the beach at Mustang Island State Park. “It wasn’t a big deal, but it sure was disappointing,” she said.

By Serendipity

When Centennial Direc­tor Holly Hook heard about the shutdown on the news, her mind went to her broth­er-in-law, Todd Polson. “I was concerned it was affecting him. It was a big deal at the time,” Hook said.

Over the summer, Hook’s family scheduled a trip to visit Polson’s family in Re­dondo Beach, Calif. from Oct. 8-15. Hook had expected to just not see Polson as often during the trip because he would be working.

Polson works for NASA as Criminal Investigator in the Office of Inspector General in Long Beach, Calif. Although the shutdown began Oct. 1, he still had to check in to work because he was the one person assigned as “essential” Duty Agent to handle emergencies. This meant he was required by the government to work. He was told that he would be paid for that week, Oct. 1-4, but when he would be paid was uncertain. He would also not be paid regularly—for him, ev­ery two weeks.

By serendipity, the shut­down actually benefited the trip: after working for the first week of the shutdown, Polson stayed at home and was able to spend more time with Hook’s family. “It was awesome. We got to see him a lot,” Hook said. They visited the space shuttle Endeavor, played soccer with the kids and enjoyed the beach.

Polson was fortunate enough that the furlough did not put a major economic strain on his family. He returned to work Oct. 17, just after Hook and her family left California.

“For our little slice,” Hook said, “it had a silver lining.”

– Tiffany Le

with additional reporting by Katie Payne