Blackout, Pungent Smell Not Enough for Early Dismissals


Jano Nakhla

Many classrooms at Nonnewaug were dark Nov. 12 as the result of a midday power outage.

Jano Nakhla, Reporter

WOODBURY — Nonnewaug students were doing their work in classes as usual Nov. 12. Things kept going normally until suddenly, the lights went out across the whole school. What happened?

The students, rather than panicking over the sudden darkness in the classrooms, began hoping to be released for the rest of the day — but those hopes were quickly dashed.

Many people openly expressed their annoyance during the lunch waves following the outage. Freshman Kiera Jacobi discussed why students were frustrated over not being dismissed.

“The obvious reason was that kids wanted to go home early, but I feel that, for a lot of people, it’s just nice when something interesting happens during the school day,” Jacobi said.

Jacobi also agreed that, though it might not seem like a big deal, a day cut short would have given students more time for important things like jobs and studying. 

However, simply going home may not be as easy as students think.

The biggest factor that schools consider during a power outage is the safety of the students. If the students’ safety will be compromised by the outage, they will dismiss the school,” said Rebecca Trzaski, a world civilization teacher.

Nonnewaug principal Pam Sordi discussed the reasons that may cause power outages in the school.

“Any number of issues can cause an outage. We saw power outages more frequently when our building was under construction. Now, typically outages are weather-related. Sometimes an accident may cause downed lines as well,” said Sordi.

She explained that all calls for school dismissal come from the superintendent’s office.

“It should be noted that the high school has generator back up throughout the building,” Sordi added. “Emergency lighting and bathroom power is available even during an outage. There is little reason to have to leave school at Nonnewaug during an outage.”

The Friday power outage was not the only event that had students hoping they would be dismissed from school early. Earlier in November, there was a strange smell that spread throughout the building.

“The smell came from a source in the community, likely a septic tank being cleaned or emptied,” Sordi said. “The smell traveled through the air and surrounded our building. Much of our air is pumped in from outside, so the smell came with the outside air. The smell in the building was cleared quickly as the smell dissipated outside.”

So, what did the school do to counter the power outage, and what does the school plan to do in the future to prevent power outages? 

“When the power goes out, we first contact our head custodian and our SRO to best determine the reason for the power outage. This can help us assess the amount of time we may be without power. We also let our superintendent of schools know of the situation,” said Sordi.

While it is a little annoying for students to have their hopes rise for no reason, it is important to note that it was raining the day of the power outage. Both Sordi and Trzaski seem to agree that safety is more of a priority than a couple extra hours of free time.

“I am sure it can be tricky for administration to decide whether or not to dismiss students during a storm; it might actually be more dangerous to have students out on the roads, driving or on buses,” Trzaski concluded.