The Auditorium’s Ceiling Is Falling Down, Falling Down…
By MIKAELA ADWAR
With the unexpected postponement of the annual Fashion and Talent Show, students and parents alike were left baffled by the shocking news. Rumors of a collapsing ceiling in the auditorium spread through Jericho High School like wildfire, with the postponement of the events seemingly the only topic of conversation. All of the speculation was confirmed with an email that was sent to parents on January 20th from the Director of Public Information and Community Relations at Jericho High School, Ms. Denise Nash. In the email she said, “Last Friday we noticed there was an issue with the integrity of the ceiling in the MS/HS auditorium. We have remedied the situation and completed all appropriate air tests, which have come back negative. However, out of concern for the health and safety of our students and staff, we are temporarily closing the MS/HS auditorium to further assess the safety of the facility. Plans to begin a complete re-construction of the auditorium are still scheduled to begin this summer.”
JHS principal Ms. Rosenberg spoke more about the situation in the auditorium, and said, “We were told that a small piece of the ceiling had fallen down. Luckily no one was injured as no one was in the auditorium at the time that it happened. Fortunately, this has been taken care of, but nobody can make a guarantee that something else is not going to happen or that this won’t happen again. Much of what happens in the auditorium involves music, which causes reverberation, which may not be safe. So, the Board and Central Offices agreed to shut down the auditorium for the rest of the year. It was scheduled to start being renovated in June anyway, but unfortunately it could not wait for another three or four months.”
Falling debris was not the only hazard in the auditorium. Ms. Nash said, “The district has always been aware that there is asbestos in the ceiling of the auditorium. After a piece of the ceiling fell, the space was patched and air quality testing was done, which came back completely clear. If there was any concern over the air quality, we would not have students and staff in the building.”
Senior Jillian Silverman, one of the directors of the Fashion and Talent Show, said, “I was in utter shock. The directors and I tried to come up with other ideas to try and make it work for Saturday. Once we realized that it wasn’t possible, we had to deal with it and look forward to making it as amazing as it could be for the future date.” To the delight of its participants, the Fashion and Talent Show will now take place on Saturday, February 28th at Cantiague Elementary School.
Unfortunately, the Fashion and Talent Show was not the only event that was affected by the collapsed ceiling–Diversity Day, Choreo, and the grade-wide meetings all take place in the auditorium every year. Diversity Day and Choreo, in particular, take a tremendous amount of preparation and are highly anticipated events. Senior Erica Busch looks forward to these events each year. “The closing of the high school auditorium is a huge disappointment because several of my fellow seniors have been looking forward to their final Choreo and Diversity Day, and their experiences won’t be the same.”
Director of Diversity Day Mrs. Waters notified the high school staff on January 28th that the daytime performance of Diversity Day has been cancelled. The tireless preparation of its participants will not be for naught, however, as an evening performance took place on Tuesday, February 10th at 7 p.m. in the Little Theater. She encouraged students to wear the Diversity Day t-shirts or school colors on that day in “support of the students who were ready to put themselves out there by sharing their songs, dances and stories.” When asked about Choreo, Mrs. Rosenberg said, “We are looking at other venues, though it has not been decided yet. Luckily that it is not scheduled until May and we still have some time to make that decision. We are really looking to see how the Fashion and Talent Show goes at Cantiague on February 28th. We want to see what the staging looks like and if the stage is really big enough, which is really the issue we have. We would hope that with two nights, the venue would be able to hold all those who wish to see it.”