Woodgrove Experiences Power Outage

Woodgrove Experiences Power Outage

Written by Faith Ralston , Arts/Entertainment Editor, Woodgrove Outlander

Woodgrove High School experienced a day-long power outage on September 30, 2015. Despite this, school remained open all day.

Caused by a broken transformer damaged in a severe storm the night before, the outage affected many aspects of the school day. Teachers and students found out the power was out when they walked in the doors of Woodgrove that morning. Many students walked in late because the poor road conditions caused delays in traffic, which also made many buses late.

There were many, varied first reactions, including, “It’ll be temporary,” “This will be an adventure,” “I wonder how we’re going to conduct business,” and “Is there running water?” Some students were even pleased. Sophomore Ethan Thomas says he was “excited, because no power meant it would be an easy day.”

Although many students felt differently about the power outage, many students did not choose to stay the day, and were picked up early. Of approximately 1600 students enrolled at Woodgrove, about 1100 stayed.

The main office staff was under the most stress overall.  Secretary Mrs. Lemley said the hardest thing about the day was the influx of parent phone calls for early dismissals. She said, “It added stress to the situation, when the accommodations were fine for them (the students) to stay.”

“It took all of the main office, Mrs. Sager, Mrs. Holland, Mrs. Butler, Mrs. Fiore, Mrs. Dawson, several teachers, and a lot of students to accommodate all of the phone calls,” says Attendance Secretary Michelle Clark. “I had trouble entering all of the early dismissals, because I usually add all of the names into the computer.”

According to Mrs. Clark, the average amount of early dismissals on a normal Friday is 25-50. On a pep rally Friday, the number can be over 100. On the day of the outage, there were around 500 early dismissals.

The outage also caused other problems for the Woodgrove faculty and staff. The water fountains did not work, so coolers filled with water were set up around the school. Cameras were down, so the Head of Security Ward Sigler roamed the halls to make sure everything was running smoothly.

Many teachers had to postpone quizzes, readjust lesson plans, reschedule visits to the library, or write the class notes on their whiteboards instead of the Promethean boards. A Woodgrove teacher was asked if he thought the school day should have been cancelled. He replied, “I’d like to see the school board give each school the power to make decisions like that.”

According to Director of Guidance Geri Fiore, the biggest problem of the day was “parents calling, and trying to pick their kids up, when they were safe here. It was disruptive.”

This opinion is shared by Vice Principal Tim Panagos who called it, “The mass exodus of students.”

Different parts of the school experienced other difficulties. According to librarian Mrs. O’Connor, the library was minimally affected, because there were laptops, even though they were dying off throughout the day.

Even the SCA was affected. SCA had scheduled on-line voting for Homecoming Court during lunch. They were originally going to do the voting online, but because of the power outage, “We had to go old fashioned paper and pen,” said Shelby Jones, 10th grade SCA representative.

The cafeteria staff faced the most daunting problems. Mountain View Elementary kitchen staff coordinated with the Woodgrove Cafeteria Manager Mrs. Bartling to provide everyone with hot lunches. The walk-in fridge, coolers, etc. were on a backup generator, but there was no power for ovens and steamers.

According to Mrs. Bartling, her biggest struggle was transportation and making sure everything was completed on time. “We were first going to go to Loudoun Valley to cook, but when Mountain View’s power came back, we decided to cook there instead. My staff and I loaded my pickup truck with food and warming units to take to Mountain View at around 9:30-10 am.”

Bartling took half her staff to Mountain View and wrapped all of the food in tin foil and stuck them in warming units. The hot foods that were served were philly cheese steaks, cheeseburgers, and chicken sandwiches. The other half of her staff were working in the dark back at the school preparing the cold food.

The kitchen staff took down all student ID numbers and lunch orders on paper. At the end of the day, the cafeteria had sold 429 items. When the school day had ended, Mrs. Bartling went to Loudoun Valley to enter every lunch item in the computer by hand.

“I was very pleased with the way the day went. The way my staff worked, and the collaboration with Mountain View, it was a great team effort,” said Bartling.

A whole different range of complications befell the school nurse, Mrs. Lovasz. She had to work by flashlight. She described her biggest struggle as “trying to maintain safety.”
Some of the things she had to worry about included making sure there was water, enough ice, good air quality, finding people who needed medicine, protecting the insulin, and only opening the fridge to get icepacks. “I just stuck to the routine, and prayed there was no emergency,” said Lovasz.

The day took a lot of accommodations, things still ran relatively smoothly. Mr. Panagos said, “It’s nice to have that kind of relationship with our sister schools, how they jumped in to help.” He went on to say, “Everyone really came together as a community.”