By Alessandra Puccio
11:15 a.m. 5th period was dwindling down, students were finishing up DBQ essays, teachers were finalizing lesson plans for next period, all in the yellow fluorescent classrooms of Oyster Bay High School. The rain was thrashing down on the windows of the classrooms, the parking lot was flooding over; in short, it was pouring rain, just like it had been all week.
11:16 a.m. First went the lights, then the computers, and then came the announcement. “All students please remain in your classrooms. Do not go to your next class,” said Dr. Dennis O’Hara over the loudspeaker, and Frank Imperiale on the bullhorn, roaming the hallways. This was real. Oyster Bay High School was in the dark. Blackout.
Silhouettes filled the hallways: teachers looked outside in shock, the murmur of student voices traveled up and down the blackened staircases. What was going on? What happened? Why couldn’t we leave the classroom?
11:52 a.m. Dr. O’Hara entered classroom 204, AP World taught by Brian Soper. “Please proceed down to the gym,” O’Hara announced. Confusion filled 204. Students were hungry; most of them were supposed to be in lunch, not stuck in a dark classroom.
A mass of human bodies entered the second floor hallway. Students couldn’t be differentiated from teachers walking down the shadowy, windowless center portion of the school. Everyone and everything was blending together. Students morphed with backpacks, making them look hunchbacked. Students meshed with other students, forming a giant, shady blob, slithering down the murky lane of the high school.
Over 700 students entered one half of the gym. The power outage made it impossible to raise the curtain that was dividing the gym. Too many students were crammed into much too small a space. Teachers were guarding the exits, making sure students couldn’t escape into the rainstorm. The doors were open, releasing a cool breeze from the cloudy weather into the gym. The temperature of the room was staying regular, while the annoyance levels of the student and staff bodies were rising quickly.
Over 700 different voices echoed off the sound-diminishing walls of the gymnasium. Students and staff alike were telling tales of where they were when the power went out.
“I was in gym class, and we had to go down the stairs in the pitch black,” said sophomore Diana Moran. “It was pretty scary; people were falling, and no one could find the door to exit the stairwell.”
12:00 p.m. Not all the students were in the gym yet. It was getting warmer in the wood paneled gymnasium; more and more children and teachers are pouring in. The rain was coming down in buckets outside.
So many students. So many teachers. So many questions.
What was the cause of this power outage? According the Scott Lyle, Oyster Bay High School Head Custodian, branches had knocked down some wires in Oyster Bay, making many homes lose power, not just the high school. LIPA was working on getting the power back, while the population of the high school was huddled up in the gym.
People were getting annoyed. Some students were running around the gym, other students were just sitting down talking to their friends. Most students mentioned that this is the best Friday ever, while other students mention how hungry they are, joking that they may revert to cannibalism. Most students were not enjoying the blackout at all. In fact, everyone just seemed like they wanted to go home.
Andrea Lorusso, a math teacher at Oyster Bay High School, said, “I think that we handled this very well. I’m so proud of the students for not making a mess of the situation.”
Purple polyester masses of football players crowd around the gym, divvying up into their own separate cliques of students. Teachers clad in purple and yellow Oyster Bay Staff t-shirts posed as a force among the rainbow of student colors in the gym. Even in times of distress, members of OBHS showed unity, whether it was with their own teammates, or simply with their co-workers. Was it merely a coincidence that four different Oyster Bay teams decided to wear their uniforms on Friday the 1st? Or was it an omen to stay together during a hectic day at Oyster Bay?
Flashes of cameras explode in the gym, documenting this memorable day in school history. Students were getting antsy. It is 12:37 p.m. and we have been in the gym for nearly an hour.
At 1:00 p.m., the students were dismissed. Celebratory cheers erupted from the student body and within ten minutes, the school was empty of students.
It was a learning experience though. Anyone can agree that Oyster Bay High School is definitely more adequately prepared for the next emergency, following the memorable first day of October in the 2010-2011 school year.
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