Power outage takes over Highlands


On November 15th, 2018, at 7:35 AM all the power at Highlands High and Middle School went out due to the ice storm that occurred the night previously. Many trees and other fallen objects got caught in the power lines and over 2,500 homes and businesses were without power.

Since many students were either already at the school or were on route to get to the buildings, school was not canceled or delayed due to the power outage. Dr. Karen Cheser, superintendent for the Fort Thomas Independent School District said, “It was a situation that I know was difficult, having class with no Internet or electricity.”

For the first three hours of the school day, students were kept in their first-period classrooms. The Highlands administration sent out messages via email and Twitter to try and contact parents about the students’ current situation.

Fort Thomas Schools sent out a Twitter message around 8:54 AM with the following statement: “Attention: power is out at @FTHighlandsHS @FTHighlandsMS. Students are safe and warm and teachers are teaching. MacBooks are fully charged. Lunch will be served today. Power went out at 730 and with 2500 homes without power in Fort Thomas, we did not want to send students home.”

Once this message was sent out, many high schools students felt as though they were not telling the full truth about what was currently happening. With no electricity or heat, some Highlands student took to Twitter to show their discomfort with the situation.

Senior Alex Harrison tweeted at the school saying, “Currently sitting in first period with temps dropping and no lessons being taught. Wi-Fi is out so it’s not like most lessons could be done anyway.”

Senior Matthew Lorenz said, “It’s unreasonable to assume that a school with no power is a suitable learning environment. The teachers that I have seen, have done nothing to promote learning.”

However, in some classrooms students did continue to try and learn regardless of the power outage.

Principal Matthew Bertasso said, “I saw some classes that were painting, some doing some different crafts and things. But then I also saw, like, a chemistry bingo I think and I saw some classes and it looked like they didn’t miss a beat. There were teachers up at the whiteboard doing some things. Kids were on paper and pencil. So a whole array of activities happened.”

Senior Sarah Cayton said, “I was in psychology class. We made a bunch of winter crafts like winter snowflakes.”

Even though some saw it as a grim situation, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Bill Bradford helped organize and cater lunches from businesses around the area such as having 2,400 coneys from Skyline, 110 pizzas from Fort Thomas Pizza, Jets, Papa Johns and Marco’s and 60 foot-long subs from Jersey Mikes and Subway.

Bertasso said, “I didn’t have to organize lunch at all. The community took care of that. I think one of our assistant superintendents, Mr. Bill Bradford spearheaded that. I just got kind of a message saying, ‘hey we got food coming from vendors and we’ll take care of lunch.’ I was able to just continue checking on classes, making sure everyone was okay here and our parents and our community and the central office took care of lunch.”

At approximately 11:00 AM, the backup generator for the school finally came on and at 11:50 AM, all the power was back up and running, including the WiFi, and 5th and 6th period were able to go according to schedule.

Sophomore Kade Hiteman said, “I feel as if the school did the right thing, some people’s houses have power but most don’t. It takes a lot more time for this school to warm up than a small house to warm up. They are also giving us the option to go home if a parent/guardian is picking them up. If people walked home some of them wouldn’t be able to get into their houses because their parents are at work.”

When the day was done, Cheser sent out an email which said, “Thank you for being so resilient today.” and, “I know you were bored and did not have a typical day at school and I apologize that you had to go through this.  At least, you will not have to make the day up later in May. Again, thank you for understanding and for making the best of the situation.”