By Brynn Stevens
Andover High School lost power for two hours on Thursday, Dec. 15, beginning around 8 a.m., after a tree branch fell and damaged a transformer located at the rear of the school.
Many were confused and “freaked out” when the power outage caused doors to shut automatically; when the lights flickered off it was obvious something was wrong.
One student reported they thought someone just slammed their classroom door shut, but then the emergency lights went on in the hallways indicating some sort of problem. For about 10 minutes the classrooms stood still, then the fire alarms went off, sending students and faculty pouring into the hallways. The exits to the back of the school (where the fire was) were closed off, so everyone reported to the front of the school.
Junior Maddy Curley told the Warrior Weekly that she was in the Collins Center watching part of Debate Day when the lights went out. “I was in the middle of walking down the stairs! It was so scary; this one kid kept screaming,” she said. Although that was a more extreme reaction, one can only imagine how weird it must have been to be in that large, windowless auditorium.
After students and faculty waited outside for a while, the Andover Fire Department deemed the school safe for classes to continue. The general reaction was negative — most students were hoping for an early dismissal and didn’t want to return to class. But after everyone was back inside, Dr. Sharkey explained the situation and was positive the power would return shortly after National Grid arrived. He also said that classes without emergency or natural lighting should go to the cafeteria.
By second block the school was told the power would return soon, so there was no chance of early dismissal. Debates in the Collins Center were cancelled for second block.
At 9:47 a.m., the lights returned. In the cafeteria there was a collective groan of disappointment from the students. Everyone returned to class and debates continued third and fourth block.
When asked about how well he felt the situation was handled. Dr. Sharkey said, “I would ask the students, but I think National Grid did a great job.”
Initially, officials were led to believe an unlucky squirrel had caused the transformer to blow, and until second block that’s what everyone at AHS was told.
In a later announcement, Dr. Sharkey thanked everyone for his or her cooperation and confirmed a tree branch had fallen and hit the transformer, causing the outage. So it wasn’t necessary to grieve the loss of a squirrel. Good news for the squirrels!