Broken bone? School aims to prevent academic injuries

Down But Not Out I was in a lot of pain, it felt like my ankle had snapped off, but I could feel my teammates support every step of the way as they helped me get off of the field, said Tom Lucas 23

Devyn Mcgow '23, Sophia Rich '23

Down But Not Out “I was in a lot of pain, it felt like my ankle had snapped off, but I could feel my teammates support every step of the way as they helped me get off of the field,” said Tom Lucas ’23

Devyn Mcgow '23, Alcove Club Co-Chair

Falling like the leaves from a tree this time of year, some Greenhills athletes and students are finding themselves not only in need of medical attention but academic support. Traversing the halls, one may have noticed students in casts, on crutches, and requiring scooters to get around. There have been many injuries among students during the first semester, and oftentimes when a student is injured, they miss school. This can lead to students feeling stressed and under pressure while trying to make up the lost time. However, Greenhills has systems and protocols in place to aid students when they are injured and help them integrate back into school when they feel as though they are ready. 

Dixon Miller ‘23 missed over two weeks of school after an accident resulting in a broken arm which needed to be immobilized.  

“I feel like Greenhills did a really nice job of letting me take my time. I didn’t feel rushed and felt like I had enough time to make sure I was ready to re-enter,” said Miller. 

Any time an injury occurs, the incident is reported to Deano Smith, the Dean of Academics. 

“We hear from a student’s parents, or a grade dean, and that initiates a protocol from me and the academic office,” said Smith. “We have a conversation with the family, I send out a note to the teachers, grade dean, advisor, and Paula Mervin, since she takes attendance.”
Students work with Smith and the academic team to determine reasonable goals pertaining to completing assignments and returning to the building. 

“I started going back to my STEM classes first,” said Miller, “Greenhills was so flexible and let me come to one class per day.” 

When a student has to miss a significant amount of school due to an injury, teachers and advisors work closely with the student to make them feel at ease. 

“I work closely with the grade deans and team leaders who are the ones on the front lines,” said Smith, “I’ll talk to them, and they will work with the teachers and advisors.”

Cale Piedmonte-Lang ‘22, was playing goalkeeper for the Men’s Varsity Soccer team when he went up for a ball, was hit by the opposing player, flipped and landed on his head.  He suffered a concussion and missed several days of school afterwards as he recovered. 

“Not only was my team super supportive, but also my teachers. They worked with me to make sure I had everything I needed to catch up in my classes,” said Piedmonte-Lang. “I never felt rushed. I felt as though I had time to recover.” 

When students return to the building, teachers and faculty make sure the student is comfortable and has the materials they need to catch up on concepts. 

“The teachers are automatically compassionate. They make sure students have the concepts down,” said Smith. 

“Dr. Smith has been my point person … he has helped so much. When I first came back, he greeted me at the door and walked me to my first class,” said Miller. 

When a student’s injury requires a cast, wheelchair, scooter, or another form of mobility assistance, they work with Smith, Head of Upper School Quincy McLaughlin, and Learning Center Director Caitlin Smead ‘03. These faculty members work with students who require learning assistance after an injury. 

Teachers also make a point to accommodate the needs of students who may be challenged with mobility. 

“The teachers were really helpful. Occasionally I’d say “I can’t do that,” and the teachers were really kind and really understanding,” said Miller.

Miller has a cast which covers the majority of his right arm. He is unable to use his right hand, which has led to very limited mobility. 

“Ms. Smead helped me do life with one arm. She taught me how to use voice dictation and always made sure I had a scribe when I needed one for an assignment or test,” said Miller ‘23. 

Tom Lucas ‘23, another member of the Men’s Varsity Soccer team, was clipped from behind by an opponent during a game which caused a sprained ankle and resulted in him being carried off the field by his teammates. Lucas spent many weeks on crutches as a result of the injury. 

“It was difficult to be on crutches at school. My arms hurt from carrying my bag, and it was difficult to get around school,” said Lucas. “My friends and teachers were really supportive though, they offered to carry my books and made sure I wasn’t falling behind.”

Leo Applegate ‘23 was using a mobility scooter for about 6 weeks after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot. 

“It was hard to get around the hallways, especially during passing periods,” said Applegate. “But luckily everyone was very helpful, my friends and teachers always made an effort to see if I needed help carrying anything or getting somewhere.” 

Greenhills works to help students who suffer accidents or injuries fully recover, before their complete return to the classroom. 

“The goal for students out for a longer period of time, or for any injured student, is to get better, and we as a school don’t want to slow that process down,” said Smith.