Tuesday, at approximately 12:50 PM, the fire alarms blared in the crowded hallways. Students giggled gleefully; alarms are welcome in a world of monotony. A teacher began to shout, “THIS IS NOT A DRILL! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!”
Students fell silent.
As this article is being composed, students are buzzing around me in the student parking lot. The volume of voices is stifling. We are being urged to move to the bus loop now, at 1:24 PM.
Owen Spalding, one senior on site, shuffled nervously in place with a group of his closest friends. “We’re desensitized,” he remarked with an excited gleam in his eye, “None of us could even react properly because we’re so used to drills.”
The panic continues. 1:28 PM yields a rush to find advisory teachers.
Jennifer Stone, a boisterous English teacher, had this to say. “I knew it wasn’t a drill as soon as I heard the alarm. I was with my child, so I was quite concerned. It’s clear we (the students) weren’t prepared for a fire during passing period.”
Though startling, this lack of preparation has several simple explanations, says Cindy Gannon, administrative staff. “Most of it was just the timing,” she stated, “a lot of the kids were just coming back from lunch, so they were confused as to whether they should’ve gone to sixth period or advisory location for a fire. Any time students aren’t in a designated class, they should go to their advisory teachers. The teachers knew what they were doing, but the students weren’t entirely sure. Were it later in the year, they probably would’ve known, since we have an advisory fire drill scheduled in the near future.”
However, even the students who were not sure where to go knew enough to evacuate the building and gather with their grade levels. Despite the hectic nature of the situation, safety was the number one priority among WPHS staff and first responder crews.
At this time, little is known about the origins of the fire other than that it began in the welding room. School is now dismissed at 1:36 PM. All students are accounted for. Check back with The Panther Perspective soon for more information.