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Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

Mill Valley News

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Breaking News: Students evacuate school due to fire alarms, standing in rain and eventually relocating to Monticello Trails Middle School

The alarms went of following a smoky smell in the building, but it was determined to be safe by firefighters shortly after Thursday, March 7

Students evacuated the building due to fire alarms at 11:07 a.m. Thursday, March 7. Students and staff stood in pouring rain until they received instructions to walk to Monticello Trails Middle School while firefighters investigated the situation. They determined the building was safe and, at around 11:40 a.m., students made their way back to Mill Valley for fourth block classes.

Before the fire alarms began to sound, many students and staff reported a smoky smell. However, staff received an email telling them not to be concerned about the smell, so when moments later the fire alarms began, students like sophomore Cat Rivas were confused.

“I thought it was a surprise drill or something; I didn’t know it was an actual fire,” Rivas said. “I was in the art room on the [ground level] with Ellis and I did smell something burning.”

No actual fire was found and the origin of the smoke smell was not revealed by fire fighters or the administration. Administration did confirm the fire alarm was not pulled as a prank. 

[When the alarms went off] we were all running out of the building, trying to figure out where to go because some of us had no idea.

— Senior Kaylen Hyde

Once the alarms went off, students were instructed to exit the building. Senior Kaylen Hyde explained the chaos of that moment for her.

“We were all running out of the building, trying to figure out where to go because some of us had no idea,” Hyde said. 

Because of the smoky smell, many students knew immediately that this was not a planned drill. Once students and staff evacuated, they stood in the rain for 5-7 minutes before being told to begin walking to MTMS. Rivas explained how she felt to be in the rain during the incident.

“At first it’s kind of exciting, like I’m in the rain,” Rivas said. “Then I was in the rain: wet [and] gross.”

Hyde echoed Rivas’s thoughts, saying that the weather conditions exacerbated an already confusing situation.

“​​I’m confused about what happened and not happy that it had to happen today of all days when it was like pouring out because now we’re all wet and none of us are happy and we all want to go home,” Hyde said.

Getting to the middle school in the rain was especially difficult for sophomore Ellyott Edwards, who has a medical CAM boot which is not supposed to get wet.

“It was not easy at all,” Edwards said. “Honestly, my socks are so wet it’s not even funny. There was like a weird flash flood around the curbs, so I had to jump over that but I can’t jump on my foot [that has a boot], so I just stepped in [the water].”

In addition to the unfortunate weather conditions and general confusion, many students were inconvenienced because they missed out on useful seminar time right before the last day of third quarter Friday, March 8. Junior Abby Riggs explained that she had been planning on making up work during this time.

“I was really annoyed because I was supposed to be taking a make-up [AP US History] test and now I didn’t get to take that so I have to stay after school and take it,” Riggs said.

After arriving at MTMS, students and staff were ushered into the gym. Social studies teacher Tina Keith explains the energy in the gym before everyone knew what was happening.

“It was chaotic,” Keith said. “All the kids went into the gym and either were sitting on the floor or sitting in the bleachers. We were there for probably 20 minutes or so before the administration came in and gave us instructions to come back.”

We are truly blessed to have such a wonderfully supportive community here at Mill Valley. Everyone helped and supported each other during this challenging 45 minutes. This is who we are and I am so grateful and proud to be a part of Jaguar Nation.

— Principal Dr. Gail Holder

Eventually, principal Dr. Gail Holder arrived at the MTMS gym, where she told students and staff that the building was safe. Holder then began dismissing students to walk back to the school and head to their fourth block classes. 

Upon returning to the school, a large number of students began to form a line at the office to be signed out by parents to go home for dry clothing. Teachers also helped pass out dry clothing for students to change into for the remainder of the school day. Holder said via email that the school community came together to help during the aftermath of the incident. 

“We had donations of shirts and sweatshirts, attendance and check out assistance and calming of nerves for some of our students who had a hard time with the disruption to our daily schedule,” Holder said. 

The remainder of the school day continued as normally as possible, with a large number of students absent and an adjusted lunch schedule. Despite the inconvenience of the incident, principal Gail Holder said via email that she was proud of the way students and staff acted quickly to ensure safety.

“I want to share how incredibly calm and appropriate all of our students were during this unsettled and uncomfortable time,” Holder said. “Our teachers operated with a mindset of safety first and our support staff secured the building and began building a system of support for when everyone returned.”

Holder believed the effective reaction from the students and staff was ultimately a testament to the school’s strong community.

“We are truly blessed to have such a wonderfully supportive community here at Mill Valley,” Holder said via email. “Everyone helped and supported each other during this challenging 45 minutes. This is who we are and I am so grateful and proud to be a part of Jaguar Nation.”

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About the Contributors
Emma Clement, JagWire editor-in-chief, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief
This is senior Emma Clement’s third year on the JagWire staff. This year she is JagWire and Mill Valley News editor-in-chief, in addition to being a writer and designer for the newspaper. When she is not working on journalism, Emma enjoys reading, drawing, painting, watching TV shows and spending time with friends and family. She is also involved at Mill Valley as NHS president, Spanish NHS vice president, Youth for Refugees president, Model UN president, NAHS vice president and is a member of NEHS, Scholar’s Bowl and Women’s Empowerment Club. Outside of school, Emma works at Pinnacle Gymnastics as a gymnastics coach and is on the editorial board for elementia, the Johnson County Library’s teen literary magazine.
Barron Fox, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Barron Fox’s first year on the JagWire staff. He is looking forward to learning more in depth about designing, writing and photography. He is also involved with the musical, the play, Model UN, Youth for Refugees, debate, forensics and 4H. Barron enjoys hanging out with friends, gaming and cleaning. Barron is currently working at Pegah’s as a host and loves it! Barron is excited about this upcoming year and being a part of the JagWire staff.
Madelyn Mulryan, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Madelyn Mulryan’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is exploring all roles for newspaper but especially writing. She enjoys reading, listening to music, spending quality time with friends and binge-watching shows. Maddie is involved in Youth for Refugees, Women’s Empowerment, Model UN and Debate. She is excited to make this year of newspaper great!

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