WA holds early release due to plumbing issues

Anushka Patil, News Editor

Story updated February 8, 2020, at 4:30 p.m.

On Friday, January 31, Westford Academy released students twenty minutes ahead of schedule, due to a plumbing issue in the bathrooms located next to the Cafeteria. The senior class was released at 1:35 p.m. and the rest of the students at 1:40 p.m. A broken pipe in a boys’ bathroom caused the flooding in the history wing and cafeteria.

Students rushed out of their classrooms, confused about the situation at hand. Many students were unaware of where the flooding was, how much sewage water had flooded, and the cause of the broken pipe. Sophomore Samantha Greene recollected her memories of the flood and the atmosphere of the school during the situation.

“All I remember is the smell. I walked by the cafeteria and it smelled awful. They had to spray the halls with extreme amounts of Febreze. I talked with my friends and everyone was a little confused about why they let us out early since we didn’t really know all the details of the situation. Also, it was a bit chaotic as people were trying to leave school since the normal schedule was disrupted. However, knowing that it may have been intentional, we are all interested to see what the root of the problem was,” Greene said.

Custodians and staff sprung to action to clean the school. As students were exiting the building, certain parts of the school were guarded in order to allow the custodians to do there job. The cafeteria, the ramp leading to the cafeteria, the staircase leading to the parking lot, and the history hallway were all closed off due to excessive flooding.

During the time of the flood, there was no running water in the building or flushable toilets. As a result, all after school sports games were canceled. However, WATA’s schedule “39 Steps” production still ran in the evening. The running water problem was fixed on Saturday, February 1.

While speculation of the incident spread through the school, ranging from an accident to and intended orange prank, a plumbing company came to the school to figure out the real cause of the situation. Detective Geoffrey Pavao was present during the plumbing visit.

“After the plumbers came, we figured out it was a blockage that went twenty-eight feet into the pipes. So, it literally could have been anything. It could have been a large wadd of toilet paper, it could have been an orange, it could have even been a condom. We do not know the real root of the problem, but we do know that it was a bad blockage of some sort that caused the overflow of sewage water,” Pavao said.

In a newsletter to parents and faculty, Principal Jim Antonelli addressed the situation. He feels that the actions of students are reaching an unnecessary amount of disrespect, stemming from the boys’ bathroom antics and the fire drill prank.

“This afternoon we had another issue in one of the bathrooms which caused a severe backup and we needed to immediately shut off the water to the school.  We believe that this may have been done purposefully by one or more students.  I am going to address the student body again next week about the destruction of school property and the mischievous behavior.  It MUST STOP!  If a student is caught destructing or damaging school property we will ask the WPD to prosecute that student (s),” Antonelli said.