What Went Wrong?

Brand new building faces issues upon first week open.


By Braxton Mastre, Reporter

The newly constructed Elkhorn North High School ran into some issues on its second day of classes. A fire suppression line was damaged during construction in the auditorium, causing the fire alarms to go off.

According to Principal Dan Radicia, the fire suppression line was damaged by machinery causing it to break. When the fire suppression system is set off, the change in pressure activates the fire alarm, he said. This incident happened during 4th period and 2nd lunch. 

Students were told to evacuate the building because no one immediately knew what was going on. Sophomore Jacob Horner was eating lunch at the time: “I was kind of mad since I was hungry and I couldn’t bring my food with me.”

Teachers had a different reaction. Mrs. Armbrust, a science teacher at Elkhorn North High School, believed it was construction-related before anyone knew. “I thought it was just likely due to construction,” she said, “but we better evacuate anyway.”

Principal Radicia has been involved in education for the past 23 years and has only seen 2 fire suppression systems break before this one: “Both times they broke because of student negligence and vandalism. Those water lines are not rated for 170 – 180 pound high schoolers to do pull ups on.” said Principal Radicia. 

The incident raises questions if the school was ready with construction not being completed. “The school was not ready on August 1st when we started moving in but I feel like it is ready now. Yes there are things to finish but we are making due and the building is amazing!” said Mrs. Armbrust. 

Principal Radicia expected there to be some issues with a new building. “I am pleased that they got everything inspected and passed. The auditorium is almost completed. They lost some days year one because of the weather, but overall, everytime I go into the auditorium they are making so much progress. Even with the mishap.” he said. 

Some students agreed with the teachers. “We just thought these kinds of things happen and we weren’t worried at all from it,” said Jacob Horner.

Luckily, there was no damage to the building other than the water pipe that broke. The auditorium only had a dirt floor at that point, so the water didn’t damage anything. The biggest issue was getting the fire alarm to turn off. 

At the time of writing this story, multiple areas in the school are still under construction. The auxiliary gym, library, auditorium, woodworking room, and welding room are still in the process of construction. The woodworking and welding rooms have been going over the safety protocols in a class room while they wait for the rooms to finish. They are expected to finish in the next week. 

The stadium just passed inspection and is ready to go, and the bleachers are ready for socially distanced games. Principal Radicia made sure to get the restrooms, kitchen, commons,  and academic centers done before anything else because “90 percent of the time in school is set in the G and H wing [Academic Center] and the Commons [Lunch Area].”

Students and teachers wondered if the buzzing around the school was related to the fire alarms. It was not. According to Principal Radicia, the buzzing was issues with the intercom system in the building. “It was not the fire alarm system that created the buzzing, it was the intercom system.” he said.

In 2020, where COVID-19 dominates, fire alarms are minor in the grand scheme of things, and teachers are just glad to be back in the classroom despite new school problems. Mrs. Armbrust said, “I missed being in the classroom so much!. The COVID quarantine was really hard on social people like myself. I literally would have tears streaming down my face while teaching during quarantine last spring. I missed the interaction and my students’ voices so much. I am so grateful to be back in the classroom with my students.”