School Floods, Students and Teachers Left to Cope

by Anna Haas ‘23

Much to the surprise and annoyance of students, teachers, and parents alike, school resumed after winter break with the aftermath of a flood in the school. On December 27, the combination of an old system and frigid temperatures caused boiler pipes and a fire code sprinkler to burst on the first floor. Though maintenance crews were on site immediately after the event, the school was still suffering significant effects from the flooding upon students’ return on January 3.

In addition to the many classrooms that were damaged, one of the most noticeable effects to many students and teachers was the stifling heat throughout the school. Unlike the water damage itself, the excessive heat as a result was not confined to the first floor but instead plagued most classrooms in the school. Even with the efforts of MCPS maintenance, who were on site all week, students and teachers did not see much improvement in their classrooms’ climates for most of the first week back at school.

Also as a result of the flood was the damage to the school’s fire alarm system. Since the sprinklers are tied to the fire alarm, the burst sprinkler caused the fire alarm to become unusable. The school has been on “fire watch” since returning to school while the system is being fixed. While the alarms are shut off, “security, building services, and administration have been walking the building at various times, keeping a log of areas, checking for safety, and obviously, fire hazards,” said Principal Tim Britton.

As for the actual water damage, the art wing was the most affected. Many supplies and even artwork were damaged in the flood. “Some students lost artwork teachers had saved for the Art Show,” said art teacher Michele Spangle.

The next most consequential point of damage was to the sound system in the Ertzman Theater. While the theater itself was left intact, there was significant damage to the amplifiers, according to music teacher Jonathan Dunn. “The only area impacted was the electrical cabinet that housed the amplifiers for the sound system,” he said. “The county has done an assessment of the amplifiers and we are in the process of taking them to a repair shop to see if they can be fixed. If not, they will be replaced. The school has insurance that will cover that.” Either way, Dunn has been told that the necessary fixes or replacements should be completed soon and should have no effect on Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival this March.

Along with irreplaceable artwork and expensive sound systems, many teachers faced difficulties when confronted with their damaged classrooms and supplies. Health Education teacher Heather Giovenco explained that at least 10 of her posters and trifolds were ruined and needed to be redone. Damages also surpassed simply ruining supplies. “My couch, cushions, and rug all needed to be washed. All [my] ceiling tiles were replaced and there is water under the floor tiles and on the lights,” said Giovenco.

Even though many teachers faced similar difficulties with their classrooms, all were initially told that no classroom changes would be necessary. However, many teachers and their classes took refuge in the Ertzman or the stadium during that first week back to school, if only to get away from the oppressive heat in the classrooms.

Since the events of the flood, there have also been concerns among parents regarding mold or mildew and the overall safety of their children being at school while the temperatures are so extreme. These concerns were often vocalized on the Class of 2023 Facebook page. An email from the school regarding some of the events of the flood was not sent out to parents until January 5, leading to many speculations and rumors. However, when the email came out, Britton assured parents that the school was safe for students and staff.