Inclement Weather Suspected to Have Caused 7-Minute Power Outage


By Gloria Kosir and Alicia Malek

A building-wide power outage interrupted student arrival and early bird classes on Monday, Oct. 25 from 8:05 to 8:12 a.m. Heavy rains on the northside of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs are the suspected cause of the power outage according to emails from Assistant Principal of Operations Steve Parnther and Assistant Principal of Student Services Dr. Antwan Babakhani.

Although Niles West has at least one building generator, it took longer than usual to kick in. According to the principal’s secretary, Carl Alexander, this might be due to the fact that the team equipped to handle power outages was spread throughout the building and took longer to make their way back to the generator. Niles West Facilities Manager Marcus Holleran was unavailable for comment.

No students have been reported hurt, however two students were stuck in the elevator for the entire duration of the outage. Seconds before everything went dark, the two students, one of them injured and the other assisting her, entered the elevator from the first floor science wing. Science teacher Susan Schram witnessed the girls entering the elevator. 

Once the power went out, the elevator stopped moving, and the two students inside were stuck.

“I was in my office. I thought that this is the first time that this has ever happened in my 25 years of being here, and I heard a student knocking on my door asking me if I could let the students out of the elevator because two students got trapped in the elevator. So I ran over to the elevator, knocked on the elevator, saw that they were okay, and I said, ‘just hold tight, we are working on it,’” Spanish teacher David Malatesta said.

As soon as the power returned, Schram stepped into the hall and saw that the girls exited the elevator safely and without injury.

“I just went to the elevator to see if they were in there, and then I did hear some noises up there and I heard some people kind of yelling. But when the power went back on, I wanted to make sure that the elevator actually came back down… I mean, it took a couple seconds, but they were in there for the entire outage,” Schram said.

There have been no other reports of student or staff injuries.

The power outage has also caused an issue with Canvas, Niles West’s learning management system and the medium used by every teacher at West.

According to a member of the tech department, the issues with Canvas were caused by the power outage, but they expected it to be running as usual within an hour. The issue was resolved shortly and Canvas was properly functioning for the rest of the day.

“I did have issues with Canvas this morning, but not the internet,” Malatesta said.