Thursday, August 16, 2007

This is Not a Drill

Wednesday morning, 8:00 am, the third full day of school. I've got my kids working on a comic strip regarding science lab rules (or what would happen if you didn't follow the rules which gives the kids lots of chances to draw goofy cartoons of flaming labs, exploding test tubes and the like). We've pretty much just started our assignment when the fire alarm goes off.

I pointed at the back door and told them to start heading out, closed my front door, grabbed my keys and seating chart, and followed them out. The kids dropped their markers and followed my directions to the letter with no goofing off and no carrying on. Obviously the kids who were here last year know the drill, so to speak.

So we get out to the fence where our assigned spot is, I count all my kids, and we stand there quietly and wait. Mr. Social Studies and I discuss the fact that the administration apparently wanted to get our required monthly drill over early although we were wondering about the wisdom about doing it on a day where the temperature was predicted to hit 102 degrees.
Our assigned spot, after all, is not in the shade and it was already very warm. But heck, it shouldn't take more than a minute or two for them to give the all clear and we could head back in.

At about the time that I'm starting to think that it's taking longer than usual we start hearing the ever so faint sound of a siren. And the siren got louder. And louder. And pretty soon everyone is looking towards the front of the school, mouths agape, as a fire truck comes barreling into the front parking lot and disappears from view.

Holy crap. This isn't a drill!

The kids are immediately full of questions:

"Is the school burning down?"

"Are we going to get to go home?"

"Will we get lunch if it burns down?"

"Are we going to get to go home?"

"What's going on?"

"Are we going to get to go home?"

And so forth and so on. I guess it never occurred to them that we teachers don't communicate telepathically so therefore aren't privy to every little thing that's going on.

After about fifteen minutes, with no relief in sight, Mr. Social Studies and I decide we have to do something about the lack of shade. Assigned spot be damned, we're moving them to the shade because the temperature was rapidly rising. Fortunately shade wasn't too far away, and we were already situated there when Mrs. Squirrel, one of our Assistant Principals, came by to suggest we move. (Apparently the folks on Mrs. Eagle's side of the building had no shade whatsoever and The Principal called the City Recreation Department and asked them to come open up the Recreation center across the parking lot from The school.)

We stood out there for the rest of First Period, for all of Second Period, and part of Third Period.

Or for about an hour and a half.

Let me tell you, if you want to get to know your kids, standing outside for a fire drill for over an hour gives you lots of opportunities for conversation. Talk about a bonding experience.

In any case, what apparently happened was that a gas leak triggered an automatic fire alarm. The leak was repaired and we were all allowed into the building to finish the day. Of course, trying to get the kids to focus after their big adventure was a bit of a challenge.

Interesting way to start the year, dontcha think?


HappyChyck said...

A bonding experience already! That is an exciting start to the school year. Glad everything turned out okay.

nbosch said...

I've always said, "If there is a fire drill in rain or snow, better take your purse!" But sorry about the heat, it's only been 100 here. N.

Mrs. T said...

Oh my gosh- the same thing happened to us last year- only it was an abnormally chilly October day. We stood in snow flurries without jackets. Since it was high school, some of the kids had car keys and stealthily left the campus. We obligingly turned our heads- fewer kids to keep track of. We got to take shelter in the chiropractic college gym across the street. Instead of an innocent gas leak, however, ours was a renegade cigarette tossed by one of the kids in wood shop. The cigarette caused a bit of paper to catch fire, which was then sucked up into the ventilation system. Luckily, no damage- just stinky smoke that warranted the kids' being sent home for the day and teachers having to stay.
Never a dull moment, eh?

Mister Teacher said...

I'm supremely envious that you have kids who are already well behaved enough to exit your room orderly! Mine are anything but.

Anonymous said...

What a welcome back!At least everyone is safe.