Students at Centennial High School got the chance to sleep in on Nov. 18 due to an alarming gas leak at their building. While the damage was assessed and fixed, the Eagles got a day off after receiving notice of the closing via Twitter and the HCPSS Website around 6:30 AM on the day of the mishap.
This news came just days after a gas leak at a DuPont plant in Houston, TX that killed four people. Thankfully, no one was injured in the leak at Centennial.
Many were overjoyed to have a break from their busy week, but some were also concerned about the dangerous leak. Janitors, students, coaches and teachers were all oblivious to the day’s occurrences but were notified by another alert around noon that after-school and evening activities would proceed as planned.
According to Centennial senior TJ Graise, students were not given much information about what lead to the leak.
“We just know that it happened in the boys locker room,” said Graise. “Black stuff was spewing out everywhere and the entire school smelled horrible.”
While some students were happy about the day off, others were not so sure. Missing a day of high school can be taxing and lead to undue stress for the remainder of the week.
The general consensus of the student body seemed positive given the celebratory proclamations on Twitter, but when asked her opinion, Centennial senior Emory Leineweber said, “I honestly don’t know! It’s shocking!”
Centennial senior Gary Tse was overjoyed about the day off, saying, “We need more gas leaks!”
“I’m glad they let us know before we got to school, and they fixed it very quickly,” said Centennial senior Amanda Ali. “The situation was handled very well.”
Bob Undutch was one of the BGE employees working to fix the leak. A gas and electric worker for 33 years, Undutch had been working on the pipes for nine hours to “make it safe for students,” he said.
While the situation was pronounced safe for students at 7 that morning, it was the School Board’s decision to close school for the whole day.
The leak was caused by “normal wear and tear” and started around 4 AM, according to Undutch. Workers were there soon after it was reported, replacing the regulator and rebuilding another as well as replacing the relief valve to ensure that the entire system will be secure for the foreseeable future.
Centennial High School was not the only building in the county to experience some technical difficulties this week. The Howard County Central Office has endured two days without power thus far after an outage on Nov. 17, and school officials have had to resort to working from home or relocating meetings to other venues.
Students at the Homewood Center, which is located directly next to Central Office, were dismissed at 1:10 pm on Nov. 18, also due to a power outage. Evening classes were also cancelled, with no news yet on when the issue will be resolved.
It is possible that these utility issues all stem from the sudden drop in temperature and stormy weather that has afflicted the area. Nevertheless, it is clear that the county is working tirelessly to rectify these problems and restore all students and employees to a safe school and work environment.