The Middle School officially reopened its doors to all students and faculty on Monday, February 12, 2018, one week earlier than planned. The basement and first floors had been closed for renovation. Only one classroom and the Digital Media Lab and Studio remain under continued care. According to Mr. David Kilkenney, Instructor in Music, these areas should become available for use soon.
After a water pipe burst in early January and flooded much of the basement and first floor of the Middle School, students and faculty had been displaced since the start of the second semester. Classes needed to meet in alternate locations and “business as usual” was set in place according to Mr. Ryan Ryzner, Director of the Middle School.
When news of the flooding was first reported, Middle School parents and students were informed via email. Michael Overman (`22) said he wondered at the time, “How bad is the damage? Were the lockers affected? What’s going to happen with classes?”
Ryzner said, “All but one of the classrooms on the first floor suffered significant water damage to the carpet and drywall. Some of the equipment in the Digital Media Lab was also affected. As far as personal items, other than some loose papers, workbooks, and folders that got wet, there was very little damage.”
Due to damage done to the carpet and drywall, classes scheduled to take place on the first floor and in the basement were relocated to the second floor, assembly rooms, or Athletic Center. Due to the slight water damage to first floor lockers, the locker rooms located in the Athletic Center were also being used by Middle School students for location convenience. Digital Media classes meeting in the basement lab of the Middle School needed to reassemble in Kilkenney’s band room on the second floor.
“We have had to adapt a bit, but that is always part of teaching a tech class. Things don’t work and you adapt. We are just doing it in different ways. The students are still learning the skills they would have in the Digital Media Lab,” said Kilkenney.
Ms. Carmel Fantelli, Instructor in Social Studies, said, “Mr. Ryzner was excellent in crisis, even pitching in to help remove water damaged goods. He had a detailed plan within twenty-four hours to make sure students didn’t miss any learning time. Our Head of School, Mrs. Kathy Kenny, was also helpful in going the extra mile by washing the clothing from eighth grade boys’ lockers that were wet from the flooding.”
These temporary accommodations could have left students shocked and confused, but the displacement does not appear to be a detriment. The students’ desire and drive to continue learning has not been affected, according to several Middle School teachers.
Victoria Dulzer (`22) said, “Our classrooms had many windows in the Athletic Center giving us a lot of natural light. It was an exciting adventure, but I anticipate everything being back to normal.”
“The temporary arrangements worked well. We were in a tighter space, and we got used to it. The accommodations allowed us to stay on track,” said Overman.
“My students haven’t lost a beat in the change. They readily accepted it and adapted admirably to our change in venue,” said Fantelli.
Ryzner shared in a recent email to the community that “just about all of our teachers have returned to their normal room assignments…Alison Richardson will occupy Middle School Assembly A until her room is completed.”
Angelina Lonardo (‘22) said that she didn’t have very much to complain about with the new temporary school arrangements. The only negative thing she noticed was how “the see through glass surrounding the classrooms in the Athletic Center tended to distract students as activity would pass by.”
Dorian Flowers (‘23) said the temporary lockers in the locker room worked out. He particularly enjoyed being dropped off in the back of the Athletic Center compared to the front arches because “it was a shorter walk to Convocation and lunch.”
Dulzer said, “Being in the Athletic Center did make us closer to lunch and Convocation which was nice. However, we had to do a lot more walking outside from class to class which may not have been so bad if it was warmer outside.”
Richardson, Instructor in Religion, said, “We need to only look at the journey of the Israelites to discover the new life that can come from disaster and exile. It has been a little adventure for us, and we have had some wonderful classes as a people on the move. Even stating a quote from Saint Teresa of Avila, ‘The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.'”