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Broken Transformer Generates Crisis

On Tuesday, November 8th, the west wing of Waukegan’s Brookside Cam- pus flooded and shorted an electrical transformer, causing power outages and filling the halls with smoke, according to WPS60 NewsBeat. But what really happened? Brookside Campus Director Ms. Angela Fink says, “What was shared with me regarding the transformer and subsequent power outage last week was that a possible pipe breakage caused the transform- er to completely submerge under water. When that happened, it caused areas of the building to lose power, as sparks were occuring in the base- ment of the west end each time a new power surge occurred. The smoke that was being given off was from the power surges that were occuring. When we could not find out how to turn the transformer off, we decided we needed to evacuate the building for the safety of students and staff.

“When we lost power in the main office, this also caused us to lose the ability to use the PA system to initiate an evacuation. So I pulled the fire alarm after notifying the Fire Department that we were evacuating. This was the most efficient way to get everyone out while the Fire Department assessed whether it was safe to [return to] the building or not,” observed Ms. Fink. Because of all the smoke, students and staff were evacuated during eighth period. About fifteen minutes before school ended, students were released due to the condition of the transformer.

What are teachers supposed to do when another crisis occurs? Part of the new crisis procedure this year are Classroom Emer- gency Go-Kits that were supplied to each classroom at the beginning of the year. Among other things, these Go-Kits include a flourescent safety vest, whistles, toilet paper, playing cards, emergency energy food bars, duct tape, TRANSFER two bottles of water, and a box of Crayola crayons. Some of these items have an obvious purpose. The toilet paper for example can only be used for so many things. However, the crayons and playing cards don’t serve an obvious purpose during an emergency.

In regard to the Kit in general, there aren’t any instructions given and teachers weren’t instructed when or how to use them. During this crisis, we observed only three teachers with their Go-Kits.

English teacher Erik Mennecke says, “ I like the kits, I think they would be useful. But it’s weird, I would have added a blanket, or I guess I could just use the plastic sheeting and make panchos. That would be cool. The food ration, though, looks gross.”

History teacher George Kinzer sports his Classroom Teacher vest during the evacuation caused by the generator malfunction at Brookside on November 8, 2011.

Brookside Junior Jacob Nelson observed: “Apparently, in an emergency, teachers are supposed to call on their secret agent skills to whip up a bomb shelter, and while they’re at it they can make it pretty with the crayons.”

– Ennina Solache & Michelle Johnson, Brookside junior and senior

Sophomore Literature teacher Erik Mennecke poses with his Emergency Go-Kit

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