Remember Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?” It was a fun film, but with a message: Don’t panic.
That’s what AJ Hoffman and his staff did on Sept. 14: They didn’t panic when first-shift custodians called and said only part of the school’s power was on. They just moved to another location in the Big Walnut galaxy.
“As soon as we found out about it, we contacted AEP, and they said they were aware of a power outage in the area and were working on it; that power should be restored some time that morning,” Hoffman said. “AEP crews showed up at Souders around 7:40 a.m. and explained it might take a little while to diagnose the problem.”
Hoffman said by 8:20 a.m. AEP crews on site explained there was a break in the power line from the pole to the transformer at the building and it was going to be an all-day project locating the break and repairing it.
OK. Don’t panic.
Hoffman said parents were informed of the power outage and were able to pick students up at Souders until 10:30 a.m. The district arranged for two buses to transport remaining students to Big Walnut Intermediate School.
Parents were allowed to continue picking up students at the intermediate school, or allow their children to remain there for a day of classes using a variety of free space – library, gymnasium and classrooms.
Asked how the day went at the intermediate school, Hoffman said it was a great experience for everyone.
“All the staff and students involved demonstrated poise and adaptability in an unexpected situation,” Hoffman said. “The intermediate school staff was welcoming and accommodating, and the students were able to get lunch from the Intermediate Cafe.”
Hoffman said each grade level was provided with its own space so lessons could continue uninterrupted.
“The outstanding support we had from the central office throughout the entire day allowed our staff to focus on providing the best environment for our students,” Hoffman said. “Souders’ staff was able to prepare materials that they brought along to ensure students received a day that included instruction and other unique opportunities.”
Hoffman said one grade level paid a visit to Big Walnut High School Principal Andy Jados; some grades took nature walks that tied in with science standards. Another grade level was able to run through academic workshop stations with their students.
“I was incredibly impressed with how everyone involved was able to make it a comfortable and worthwhile day for the students,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said the parents of any students scheduled to be a pickup, that had not already been picked up, were contacted individually to relay information about the student’s location and there was not a need for students to be transported back to Souders at the end of the school day.
Power was restored at Hylen Souders at 3 p.m.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093