Pipe Burst Forces Learning Disruption, Relocates Classrooms


Alexandra Seibel

The relocated materials from Mrs. Powell and Mr. Pelton Cox’s rooms the week following the pipe burst that soaked the 400s and 100s pod.

Alexandra Seibel and Abrie Hayles

Celeste Cabrera (10) and Alexis Peterson (10) try to keep warm in room 401, shortly before the pipe burst.

On Thursday, February 24th, during A lunch and third period, the fire alarms went off causing students to evacuate the building, caused by the main water pipe bursting. Due to the freezing cold temperatures that had forced a two-hour delay that morning, the main water line, routed through yearbook teacher Mrs. Powell’s room, froze, the pressure rose exponentially, and the pipe burst. Powell said that the temperature in her room was “48 degrees when I came into school that morning. Mrs. Tews lent me a space heater to try and heat the room and keep students warm.” In her side-room office, Powell could see daylight through the open ceiling tiles and realized that someone had been working in the roof, and not closed the ceiling when finished, exposing the pipes to multiple days of freezing temperatures and heavy snow that kept students and staff out of the building. 

During third period, TA Cameron Jackson (10), had just left the side-room office when suddenly there was an intense sound of rushing water. “There was no pop or snap, at least that we could hear. It suddenly just sounded like someone was taking a shower in my office, and we all saw the water come pouring out of the ceiling,” said Powell. “My first thought when I saw the pipe burst was that we needed to get the water shut off as soon as possible. Mostly I was just worried about getting the equipment out of the way of the water, and making sure all of the students’ belongings didn’t get wet or ruined, so we moved them out into the 400s pod. I had them pack all of their stuff. Maintenance came, and they were able to get the water shut off as quickly as possible. Because the water was from the water suppression system, I think that’s what set off the fire alarm,” said Powell.

Jackson and Powell stayed behind to try and clear out the fragile and expensive yearbook and media equipment– cameras, podcasting equipment, audio recorders, and unplugging anything that may have caused an electrical fire without getting drenched by the freezing water. “When I saw the pipe burst, I thought it was kind of cool,” said Jackson. “It looked like a shower. It smelled really bad, like sewage water. I grabbed the expensive camera, and tried to help clear the room.”

Cleared of tables and classroom materials, large fans attempt to dry the soaked carpet of room 401 on Friday, February 25.

 The rest of the Yearbook class evacuated with the school.  “My first thought was that this was crazy, because everyone started jumping up and it happened in our class, so we were all just kind of shocked and confused on what to do,” said Celeste Cabrera (10), Yearbook student.

All students with a 3rd or 4th period class in the 100s or 400s pod had to be re-routed to the auditorium while staff organized routes for students who had left their backpacks and belongings in affected classes to go retrieve them. 

After two hours of frantic communication and spontaneous ASL practice on the auditorium stage, school was released at 2 pm due to the learning disruption. 

Friday, February 25 was a synchronous learning day due to the water restoration efforts, which included clearing Mrs. Powell, Mr. Pelton Cox, Mr. Krajewski and Madame Brandt, Mrs. Heeney, Mrs. Black, and Mrs. Stone’s rooms of all classroom materials like textbooks, tables, and decorations. All of the classes in the 400’s pod have been relocated to other areas while their original classrooms are in the process of being repaired. Water restoration experts brought in giant fans to dry the water over the weekend, and repairs are underway. The target date for the displaced classes to move back into their original rooms is after spring break.

“We don’t have our room back, so it’s hard to work downstairs, but I’m glad nothing got destroyed in the room beyond one camera,” said Cabrera.