After a week of endless spirit and high energy activities, like newly decorated hallways and a glow-in-the-dark pep rally with an appearance from the Chick-Fil-A cow, Avonworth experiences yet another surprise. A power outage.
Around 7:15 AM on Wednesday, October 2nd, there were multiple firework-like green explosions behind the baseball field. 9th Grade Honors and Academic English Teacher Jesse Wells was among many of the faculty who walked into the chaos this morning. “My [key] card was not working. Then I heard a boom, boom, boom and heard the transformer broke.”
Maintenance staff started working with Duquesne Light first by phone and, as multiple trucks arrived, helped relay information for the 10 plus contingent of repair workers as they had to first cut away brush and growth before accessing the broken transformer. Staff relayed that a transformer explosion towards Mt. Nebo Pointe sent a surge across 279 and past the baseball field, leading to the lack of power in the school.
As students entered the school, they were ushered by teachers into either cafe. Soon the gym was opened and a series of announcements by Mrs. Dwulit and Mr. Hall directed students to head to LEAD if their teacher has a window or instead to remain in the gym.
Cobblestone and Avonworth Heights students, as well as multiple students in Ben Avon , Kilbuck, and Ohio Township, noticed a wide range of power difficulties. “My power has been out. I don’t have any at my house” – said Junior Graham Herzig who lives in Avonworth Heights. “It turned off around 7:13 ish. It was basically right whenever I got up”- said Junior Keyaira Cameron, who also lives in Avonworth Heights.
Around 9 AM announcements started to sound over the loud speakers from both Hall and Dwulit that the school day would continue as much as planned.
At 10:02 the district sent an e-mail to parents articulating how the rest of the day would proceed:
“Avonworth School District
Power Outage Update – AHS/AMS
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you are aware, we have experienced a power outage at the middle and high school this morning. This power outage has also impacted much of the community.
We have been in constant contact with the power company and they have indicated that they cannot provide us with an estimate regarding when power will be returned. With our students’ safety in mind, we have determined that the safest thing to do is to keep our students at school. If we send students home, we would be sending many students home to houses without power or supervision. Some students have indicated to us that they will not be able to enter their homes without power because they use keypads to enter their homes.
Most of our classrooms on the secondary campus have windows and are able to be utilized for instruction. The school still has wifi and our teachers are being creative with the use of space to conduct classes. For lunch, we are in the process of preparing cold/sandwich lunches on the elementary campus that will be brought up to the secondary campus to feed those students that usually purchase lunch.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as our administration and teachers work to ensure the best use of the day and the continued safety of our students given today’s circumstances.
With kindest regards,
Thomas W. Ralston, Ed.D.
Many students were hopeful for a surprise day off, and as it became clear to students that the district was proceeding with school as usual, numerous students contacted parents to arrange early dismissals. By around 2 PM, an estimated 100 high school students remained to close out the day
Parents continued to pick up students for early dismissals throughout the day , particularly after athletes reached eligibility for practice or games after 12 noon
For the students who attended classes, a number of them found themselves in different classrooms or outside, as pictured outside the cafe below.
The weather itself was somewhat surprising too, feeling like summer despite the date being October 2.
A number of students were frustrated by the administration’s choice to hold school and a few crafted simple signs to show their feelings.
Duquesne Light workers continued working on repairs past 2 PM and as the school day closed, power was not yet restored in the high school.
Additional reporting and photography from Emily Davis, Peyton Bauer, Liz Schrim, and Kailey Scigliano