This past winter, Wayland Middle School was hit by a winter storm which led to immense flooding within the school. Because of the flooding, students and staff have been forced out of their classrooms and required to relocate to makeshift classrooms in different parts of the school. “We feel really supported on so many levels, and in some kind of unexpected way, [the makeshift classrooms were] a [nice] change of scenery,” WMS special education teacher John McCoy said.”Because we have spent so much time in the former classroom, having a new classroom was almost a welcome change.”
In the middle of the night on Jan. 31, a strong gust of wind blew through Wayland Middle School and burst a water pipe, causing a fire sprinkler to go off. After a fire alarm was activated, the Wayland Fire Department immediately rushed to the scene and notified superintendent Omar Easy. By 5:30 a.m., Easy had assessed the situation and decided to cancel school for WMS for the day. The sprinkler caused such extreme flooding that three classrooms and four offices were destroyed.
Custodial staff also arrived early at WMS the morning of Jan. 31 in hopes of fixing some of the damage. However, the destruction was too severe for them to handle, so Easy brought in Service Master, a company specialized in industrial large scale floods.
Principal Betsy Gavron and Assistant Principal Meghan Maines also arrived by 6 a.m. on Jan. 31 to assist in the situation. In the following weeks, Maines was put in charge of overseeing the necessary repairs at WMS. She now works closely with Wayland’s facilities manager, Pat Morris, to ensure that progress in repairing the damaged classrooms is being made.
“It has turned into a pretty large-scale construction project,” Maines said. “In the areas that [were] demolished, all of the walls have come down, the floors have been ripped up, the ceiling has been taken off and all new electrical [equipment] has been put in.”
Due to the destruction of various classrooms, some WMS students and teachers have been displaced and forced to move to completely new parts of the building. After years of teaching in classrooms next to each other, special education teachers Jennifer Mathieu and John McCoy are now in completely different parts of the school. Mathieu was relocated to the sixth grade wing, while McCoy was moved to the eighth grade wing.
“Before [the flood], I was able to easily access teachers and students from other classrooms easily because we were right next door,” Mathieu said.
Another teacher that has been forced to move out of their classroom is Matthew Santmire, a teacher who is part of the learning assistance program at WMS. Santmire has been relocated to a modular classroom, which is a larger makeshift classroom built on the parking lot next to the WMS gymnasium. Even with the many changes that have happened around WMS, students have stayed resilient.
“All of my students have adapted really well under the circumstances and have been flexible,” McCoy said. “There has been support from families and staff, [and] everyone has been checking in to make sure we have everything we need in our new space.”
Due to the damage, many parts of the middle school have to be completely remodeled. To make the most out of the situation, administrators decided to get teacher opinions on how the new space should look. Maines was able to gather teacher recommendations for the rooms and put together a plan for the new construction.
“[The flooding situation] has been stressful, but in the long run, it will be good for WMS to have some new space,” Maines said. “We have done a lot of work [around figuring out] what spaces we have and how we [can] serve kids at the highest level using those spaces.”
As plans are finalized and the repair process begins, WMS teachers and students are becoming increasingly excited about the new spaces.
“Amidst all the challenges, there is a silver lining,” McCoy said. “[The silver lining is that] we are going to have a brand new space that is going to be constructed based on feedback we were able to provide to administration.”
Most of the repairs still have not started because the WMS administration does not want construction occuring while students are in the building. The current plan is to have all of the repairs done by the middle to the end of summer. That way, WMS students and faculty can return to brand new classrooms and office spaces.
“[This situation] shows the resilience of [WHS] staff and students,” Mathieu said. “When we get back together next year, we will be closer and look at the [new] space through a different lens.”
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Sophia Oppenheim, Class of 2023, is a second year reporter and copy editor for WSPN. She is part of the WHS field hockey team and girls swim team. Outside...
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