Theology teacher Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth’s classroom was damaged the weekend of Oct. 7, when a storm caused a tree branch to fall onto the building’s roof, creating a hole that allowed water to soak in. Some ceiling tiles of the band room beneath Hutchinson-Smyth’s room were also slightly damaged.
“It appears that [on] the previous weekend [of Oct. 7,] one of the branches of the tree crash landed on the roof above my classroom,” Hutchinson-Smyth said. According to Hutchinson-Smyth, about $400 worth of books and all of the class playlists on his computer were destroyed in the incident.
Principal Patty Beckert said, “I was very frustrated because this was not the first time his room had water damage.” Beckert said that similar instances of water damage had happened two other times in previous years.
As for how long it will take to repair, Hutchinson-Smyth said, “Hopefully I’ll be back by Monday, [Oct. 23].” However, according to Beckert, full repairs could take up to a month. The main issue Hutchinson-Smyth worries about is the mold that could grow in his room because of all of the water damage. The tree that caused the damage has been trimmed to reduce any further risk.
There was a second tree on McNick’s property that was damaged during that weekend. A pine tree near the military memorial in the upper section of the McNicholas parking lot was struck by lightning, causing a large crack in the tree’s trunk. Beckert was notified by English Department Chair Angie Noble, who received the information from a concerned parent. The tree’s damage was bad enough that it threatened to fall, risking damage to cars and the lives of students, so it was safely taken down on Oct. 13
The tree had been mistakenly thought of as originating in New Orleans, transplanted to the McNick property by the Sisters of St. Joseph when they first moved. However, Sister Judi Keehnen (’59) confirmed that the tree predated the Sisters’ arrival. She said that a field of pine and cedar trees used to stand where the main parking lot is now, but was slowly removed as McNick expanded. The damaged tree was the only one that wasn’t cut down before. Beckert said that, as of press time, she is unsure if a new tree will be planted as a replacement.