Kennedy Facilities In Disrepair After Winter Break

Ceiling in the social studies hallway after caving in from the water pouring out of a burst pipe.

Jessica Johnson

Ceiling in the social studies hallway after caving in from the water pouring out of a burst pipe.

Maggie Goldberg, Writer

Thousands of gallons of water flooded the first floor of Kennedy High School over winter break, damaging classrooms.

On Dec. 25, a sprinkler pipe over the entrance foyer by the social studies rooms froze and burst, resulting in water pouring into the classrooms as well as other parts of the school. Then, on New Year’s, a coil in a classroom broke, triggering more water to swamp the social studies wing.

Jessica Johnson, one of Kennedy’s assistant principals, reports that the damage was discovered on a scheduled building check the custodial staff completed over the holidays. 

“They found the leak during the building check in the evening, but it had been running for probably between four to five hours,” Johnson said. “And when a sprinkler head breaks like that, it’s basically like a hose. So it’s just constant water.”

Damage done to classrooms in the first flood was from the water filling up the entryway.  When teachers returned to work, walls, floors, personal items, student desks and materials were found in states of disarray. 

Joe Benedict, a social studies teacher whose room is located directly between the points of both floods, explains that he was lucky to have his Student Government class clean up their Christmas decorations before the break, or else there would have been a larger mess to clean.

Flooding in the hallway outside of Hollander’s room, the result of his broken air handler coil. (Jessica Johnson)

“I did not have much on the floor. I think there was a box of a dozen or so T-shirts from Student Government that were in the little box on the floor, and they got soaked. I tried to wash them, but they were stained from sitting in that water for a week.” 

Damage to classrooms was minimal in terms of the walls and floors. Most classrooms however had their baseboards replaced. 

Collin Hollander’s air handler coil was the one that broke and resulted in another flood. Hollander’s room is next to Benedict’s in the social studies wing. Hollander said that due to a slight slope in the classrooms, his room was minorly affected by the flooding, however, due to the clean-up and repairs being done to his room, his class was temporarily displaced.

More than these rooms were affected though; water flowed from the wing across the building to the main offices like the Principal, Jason Kline’s. World Language rooms were also damaged. Milaena Reade, a German teacher, said that half of her room’s baseboards had to be replaced. 

“I had a bunch of posters and cardboard things and some carpet squares that were on the floor that all got wet,” Reade said.

An email was sent out to the teachers of the building explaining the events of the break, however many teachers, like Reade, did not see the email until they were standing in their disheveled classrooms.

“When I came in, I just saw that all my desks were piled in the middle of the room and stuff was torn off the wall.”

The damage to the flooring throughout the Kennedy ground floor. (Jessica Johnson)

Reade described the image she walked into coming back to school, the majority of the signs that decorate her classroom found lying on the floor due to the industrial fans being used to dry the area blowing them off of the wall. 

The flood awakened thoughts of how the Kennedy building can be improved. Hollander and Johnson mention how Kennedy’s cafeteria is one of the oldest and smallest despite the number of students the school supports and how they’d love to see a new one in the near future. 

Hollander also discussed how his classroom has a noisy air handler that he has been trying to have repaired for quite some time. He said it’s distracting for him and his students, along with his room’s fluctuating temperature. 

“You can’t really learn if you’re uncomfortable temperature-wise.” Hollander said, “I don’t know if you notice, but your other classrooms are just quiet. You can’t even tell the HVAC is running.”

Building repairs and improvements have proven to be necessary for ensuring the well-being of the Kennedy students and staff, the only questions are if and when they will occur.