The calm female voice of the intercom broke through the quiet chatter of upper school Friday afternoon classes followed by the piercing shriek of the fire alarm. Students shuffle their way out the building into the heat, certain it’s another drill or popcorn accident.
It’s not until English and journalism teacher Lisa Stroud points out the trail of smoke drifting from the exterior of the chemistry lab window that students realize this is no ordinary Friday. Speculation multiplied amongst the rows of students. Although the cause is uncertain, twelfth grader Sage Pitman stated that “the tenth grade chemistry class was the last group in there before the fire. They were doing the copper to gold conversion experiment.”
At last, sirens can be heard and a truck appears, lights flashing. The first firefighters get out and begin carrying hoses toward the smoky classroom. Another one appears. And another. Four trucks, an ambulance, two sheriff cars, and WITN reporters arrive on the scene. Students straggle about the grass opposite the school, calling parents and siblings to inform them of the event of the day.
As the minutes drag by under the glaring sun, students find a seat on the grass, watching the firefighters work. Parents begin to arrive, picking up theirbackpack-less children because the building has not yet been declared safe to enter. The firefighters exit the building, stopping to speak with principal Robert Lee and faculty. Students and staff are then permitted to enter the building which some remark “smells like a campfire.”
The remaining students leave with their belongings, reunited with their phones, computers, and homework. “It could’ve burned a lot more than it did, so we were very lucky,” said eleventh grader Kassidy Cestero.
Fortunately, no students or faculty were injured because the classroom in question was not occupied at the time and no visible damage was done to the outside of the school. Several students, including ninth grader Amelia Smartnick who said her first thought was to grab her phone, have voiced concerns over their personal belongs. Since the damage was contained within the chemistry lab no one’s personal effects were damaged by water or fire. However, the fate of the ninth grade biology class fish Tiger is unknown.
A fire substance-specialized cleaning crew came in the following Monday to scour the entire chemistry lab and school continued routine as usual throughout the following week.