Power outage disrupts school day

On Friday, Sept. 29, near the end of mod one, a power surge flooded the school leaving many classrooms and hallways without light or air conditioning, and the whole school without a WiFi connection.

According to Assistant Dean of Students Sean Ireton, the loss of power was due to a Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) “planned power outage.” The power company was doing work near school, which was expected to cause an outage. However, BGE failed to contact the school to give an advanced notice.

From the moment power was lost, the school ran on a backup generator. The generator provided enough electricity for limited light, functioning outlets, and projectors in certain rooms. In other rooms, a power surge caused the bulbs in four projectors to explode, forcing the school to replace them.

Although many classrooms were affected by the power outage, some teachers were not aware that the power was lost. Chemistry teacher Shane Lawler did not know the power was out until he heard the students in his mod two class, who had come from rooms without power, talking about it. “I didn’t notice much disruption along [the second floor] hallway, but I know the stairwells were pretty dangerous in the dark.” Lawler said.

Although some classrooms still had light during the outage, it nonetheless proved to be problematic for students. “I couldn’t get any of my work done. There was no internet, which I need for almost everything,” senior Paul Diehl said.

Aside from being an inconvenience, the loss of power also became a safety hazard. During the class change to mod two, students were traveling up and down in complete darkness in all staircases besides the middle one, save the floodlights on the second floor landings of each staircase.

Freshman Ally Krieger was moderately injured while traveling to her second mod class. “I was walking down the stairs, and it was really dark. My shoe was untied, and since I couldn’t see, I stepped on the laces. My ankle went sideways, and it was a lot more scary in the dark,” Krieger said.

St. Joseph Program Director Ann Drummey was also stuck inside the elevator during the class change. According to Ireton, the power surge caused the elevator to malfunction in a similar way to the projectors.

Following the initial surprise, the school quickly made attempts to improve hazardous conditions. Dean of Professional Development Gary Scholl announced before the mod change to advisory that teachers should be posted in the stairwells with flashlights to ensure student safety. The elevator was also deemed out of service and blocked off with cones.

The first schoolwide explanation of the outage came during advisory when Scholl made another announcement stating that BGE would be restoring power by 11 a.m., and if the power did not return by that time, students would be sent home.

He also asked that teachers be creative with their teaching methods since they did not have the ability to give their students online assignments until the power was restored. “We have to go old school,” he said. He also stated that there was no change to the athletic schedule for the afternoon.

According to Dean of Students and Technology Brian Powell, 30 minutes before students would have been sent home, power was restored ahead of BGE’s projected schedule. Shortly afterward, another announcement was made by Scholl clarifying that the day would continue in a normal fashion, although they were not sure when the WiFi connection would be restored.

There were no further electrical issues after Friday morning. Classes resumed, and the elevator was fixed on Monday, Oct. 2.

Paige Alban is the co-Editor in Chief and Emily McLauchlin is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.