WA deals with a no-power school day


Kavya Desikan

Varshini Ramanathan, Editor-in-Chief

Westford Academy held school on Tuesday, Feb. 26 despite losing power early that morning, after high-speed winds caused widespread power outages through Westford on Feb. 25.

The National Grid website reported that around 40% of the district did not have power yesterday, 555 houses did not have power today, and at the time of publishing fewer than five houses remain without power. Power outages in Westford almost exclusively occur along with snow or ice storms, and as such the situation of having no power but safe conditions was relatively unprecedented.

Several roads were blocked yesterday and this morning, causing driving obstructions for several students and faculty. Most notably, a fallen tree blocked the intersection in the town center and forced many to take detours.

A power outage occurred at Westford Academy during long block on Monday, but had reportedly returned by the next morning. Though school was cancelled at Crisafulli Elementary, where there was no power, the day began at WA as usual. However, the power unexpectedly shut off once more before 7 a.m., when several teachers were in the building but few students.

As it was too late to cancel school, the day progressed as normal. Though generators were on, there was no electricity and heat fluctuated, with some classrooms on the lower level at fifty degrees while others were at normal or above-average temperatures.

There was sporadic WiFi coverage at WA throughout the school day, but most classrooms remained without power with the exception of the department offices, the library and some computer classrooms. Principal James Antonelli declined to comment about the power outage.

At the time of publishing, Superintendent Bill Olsen had not responded to a request for an interview.

Attendance secretary Karin Brown declined an interview, but stated that she was extremely overwhelmed with attendance duties due to issues resulting from the power outage. At the time of the interview, near 1 p.m., she had not yet finished recording that morning’s tardies.

A lack of power for the elevator meant that those with injuries had trouble moving from floor to floor. English teacher Megan Oelerich, who has recently suffered a spinal injury and has to use crutches, commented that though she can manage, there are certain difficulties she faces climbing up and down stairs and that it would be difficult for her to sustain should the outage continue.

With WA’s new program to provide Chromebooks to all students, the school has become increasingly dependent on technology. As a result, with no electricity, teachers who often use Google Classroom or online learning methods found themselves going “old-school” once again.

“I think because we rely a lot on technology, especially with Chromebooks this year, it’s been really hard for teachers to implement things for us to do. We’ve just been sitting around, teachers can’t project anything, and it’s been really difficult to get any work done,” said senior Tanya Singh.

Image Editing teacher Melisa MacDonald could not teach her classes, which require computers, and gave her students a study hall.

English teacher Russell Coward has had to make changes to his plans to accommodate a lack of power, but reflects that his experience teaching made the situation manageable.

“I think everyone is a little cranky that we came to school with no power, but I think for the most part, everyone’s been pretty adaptable, and it’s not that big of a deal,” he said.

Math and computer science teacher John Geary reverted to handwritten notes and provided alternate lesson plans, though students in his computer science class could not work on their programs.

For some students, especially those who were hoping for a day off in a winter season counting zero snow days, the lack of productivity caused by the power outage was frustrating.

“I’ve basically done nothing all day. This is pretty much the biggest waste of a school day ever,” said senior Isaac Mulcahy.