On the morning of December 7, just before 8:25, the power shut down in the Mt. Greylock School Building. As students were packing up to move to their second period classes, the lights went out throughout the building, sending the Mount Greylock population into confusion and speculation as to if the schedule for the remainder of the day would change.
Although the source of the outage is still uncertain, the school building clearly lost one of the power feeds, or phases. According to Technology director Rob Wnuk, houses typically have one feed, since our building is so big, we have three feeds, called phases. Much of the technology in the school requires all three phases to be on, and if one phase shuts off, there is only partial power. Running on partial power runs the risk of burning out motors, copiers, freezers, etc. In this type of scenario, Wnuk says, “We go to the main power panel in the school, and physically turn off the entire building.”
After all of the lights other than the few emergency lamps blacked out, teachers and students needed to rely on natural light for their classes. As there is copious natural light coming from the courtyards and large windows of the school, principal Mary MacDonald explained, “Teachers were just making adjustments to their lessons. Obviously computer and video work couldn’t happen, so some teachers had to make changes quickly.”
The main issue facing the Mt. Greylock administration after the blackout was lunch. Since there is no heat during an outage, the cafeteria staff would not have been able to provide hot meals for students. Since a state law states that the school must provide lunch, many students were pondering the possibility of an early release. Many students’ hopes were dashed less than two hours later, just before 10 AM, when the lights went back on, and power was restored to the building.
Some students may have felt disappointed that the power could not have remained shut down for just one more hour, which would have extended through first lunch. However, MacDonald made clear that in the event of a longer outage, “There certainly is enough store of cold sandwiches and yogurt parfaits and other meals that don’t require heat, so we could have continued with the rest of the day, just with some changes.”