Above: A tour of EGHS with student tour guides last year showed ceiling leaks in one of the hallways.
By Lilli Ranney, student reporter
East Greenwich High School students have become more vocal about poor conditions at the high school following two evacuations and three canceled days since late November.
The first evacuation was caused by a failure of the heating system in one part of the school and electricity in another part as well as a sulfuric smell after a pump failure in an acid neutralization tank in the science wing. The fix to the heating system took a few days and prompted students to lose three days of school right after being home for a week for Thanksgiving.
Then, on Dec. 13, another strange smell in the science wing prompted a brief evacuation from the school. The cause of the smell turned out to be a burnt extension cord in one of the science classrooms. EGFD rescue examined 10 students with various complaints following the incident; none needed further treatment.
The week before Christmas break, following a heavy rainstorm, there were multiple leaks in a part of the ceiling, with trash cans placed in the hallway to catch the brown liquid seeping from the ceiling tiles. That area of ceiling has had leaks for many months. Parts of the building, particularly the science wing, were cold; students bundled up in sweatshirts and coats for science class, and one science teacher was known to wear hats and scarves in order to keep warm.
Since the second evacuation, student anger at the learning conditions at EGHS has increased, with @eg_helmetmafia (on Instagram) writing in a post: “We want working heat, power, no gas leaks, and open bathrooms…basic human necessities. Where do our funds go?” The account urged students to stage a walkout after classes were resumed, once the building had been cleared for safety by the fire department. The walkout did not end up occurring, and the issue was not pushed further.
Many students say the condition of EGHS is affecting their ability to learn. They express their grievances and opinions on the current situation openly to their peers, and it’s a frequent topic of conversation at lunch tables, in class, and in the halls.
“There is just a lot going on at EGHS,” said one student who asked to remain anonymous. “The ‘trash can hallway’ is alarming, and now I’m just paranoid we’ll have a gas leak every day.” (According to school officials, there have been no problems with high school gas lines.)
Another student, who also wished to remain anonymous, said, “I think that the building is falling apart and it’s a bit concerning. I wouldn’t say that it’s a nice place to be.”
Midterms are approaching, and there’s a general feeling of worry at the school. Many classes are behind due to the events of the past month or so, though teachers and students alike are working hard to be adequately prepared for the exams.
As school resumes this week, students say they are simply hoping for the best – or at a minimum, a functional, warm building.
Editor’s note: At the Jan. 2 School Building Committee meeting, officials said they had money now to fix the leaky ceiling. Read more HERE.
Lilli Ranney is a freshman at East Greenwich High School.