Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Smoke on Meridian High School lower level prompts emergency response

Students gather outside Meridian High School as emergency responders investigate the building. (Photo by Abby Crespin)

Tuesday afternoon, shortly after class dismissal, all students and staff at the FCCPS secondary campus were required to evacuate the building due to a malfunctioning motor in the lower level that triggered the fire alarm.

An FCCPS media release reported that, “a smell of smoke in the building’s lower level prompted an emergency call to the fire department.” The fire marshal then ordered the closure of the building. Additionally, all after-school activities were canceled.

Ms. Cecily Shea pulled the fire alarm after teachers on the lower level reported signs of smoke. All those remaining left the building while Mr. Josh Singer and Mr. Matt Sowers swept the floor to ensure no students remained in the building.

“Everyone evacuated perfectly,” said SRO Sgt. Darian Chuquillangui. “They all went to their designated spots even though it was after hours.”

After the building was cleared, units from the Fairfax and Arlington fire departments arrived and were led by Falls Church Fire Marshal Henry Lane. They investigated the mechanical room where they found a compressor that had failed, causing a haze of smoke.

“They ventilated the building with fans and then tested the area with gas monitors to make sure no other gas was in the area,” Lane said. Throughout this process, Lane prohibited re-entry into campus.

“Anytime there’s an emergency and we evacuate the building, we turn the building over to [emergency services in charge],” said Associate Principal Peter Laub. MHS Administration released a statement announcing that the school will remain closed and that students may pick up their belongings the following morning. “We don’t make the decisions, we wait for someone else to tell us when the building is safe.”

Students and staff gathered in the courtyard across from the school after exiting the buildings. Athletes stood awaiting instruction from their coaches, while actors in Henderson’s production of “Greek Myths: Comedy Style” gathered in groups to run lines and practice their scenes. Later, Administration instructed all students remaining to move to the front of Henderson to allow for efficient communication.

Additionally, despite leaving much of their gear and uniforms in the building, the Meridian Wrestling team remained dedicated to their match at Yorktown High School later that afternoon. “I was borrowing shoes,” senior Jack Freas laughed.

Moving forward, administrative teams from Henderson and MHS will meet to reflect on the school’s response to the situation.

“We’ll talk about it as a secondary team,” said Assistant Principal Hilary McDuff. They will debrief with the emergency services present to discuss the efficacy of the process and how to improve in the future. The evacuation process was effective, and no students or staff members were injured or in danger, but FCCPS Administration still remains diligent in reflecting over how to improve and prevent emergency situations.

“We really measure success by what you learn from it and what you apply for the future,” Ms. McDuff concluded.


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About the Contributor
Abby Crespin
Abby Crespin, Editor-in-Chief
Abby is a junior on her third year of writing for the Lasso. Abby enjoys skiing, thrifting, and unnecessarily overthinking.