The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Inside the Oven

Throughout the Midwest a massive ‘Heat Dome’ has caused chaos around the building
Coach Justin Stigge times the cross country players as they swim Aug. 24 in the Pool. Due to an extreme increase of hot weather during the week of Aug. 20 to Aug. 26, sports teams were forbidden by state law from practicing outdoors in the afternoon. “The number one reason for practicing in the pool is because it’s way better for our legs than running in the building,” Stigge said. Photo by Kara Simpson.

It’s three in the afternoon, and cross-country runners are floating inside the pool. The smell of chlorine fills the air.

Their feet barely touch the bottom as they try to improve their endurance, splishing and splashing around. All while Justin Stigge, cross country coach and physics teacher, stands on the side, giving words of encouragement. His voice echoes throughout the room as he tells one of the runners to lift his knees higher and another to focus.

Normally, cross-country runners would be running on the sidewalk in the neighborhood by three in the afternoon, but because of the heat they were forced to practice their endurance inside of the pool.

During the fourth week of August, Kansas was hit by an intense heatwave. For five days the temperature ranged from 70 degrees in the morning to over 100 degrees past 3:00 p.m..

According to NASA, high pressure and warm air combined with high humidity resulted in a “heat dome” settling right over Kansas.

Sports teams like cross country, football, softball, and tennis were required by the district to practice early in the morning, late at night, or stay inside. Cross country had to choose between getting up at 5:00 a.m. or running so late that they have to worry about tripping over curbs. 

  Whereas football teams used portable lights to see the field pre-sunrise.

Sports have not been the only ones affected by the heatwave. The district also worked hard to manage the heat.

John Cole, the head custodian, sat at his desk Tuesday, August 22, when suddenly, there came an email. 

He opened it and sighed. 

He grabbed a bucket and a mop and walked out of his office, met by another janitor. They stared at the ceiling as water dripped through the tiles, forming puddles on the linoleum flooring. 

He sighed, mopped up the water and at last put the bucket down. As he walked away, another drop fell into the bucket.

Due to the rise in temperature, rise in humidity, and constant use of the cooling system, the pipes above the tiles began to sweat and drip water throughout the school. Later as Cole sits at his desk, peacefully eating his lunch, an email appears on his desktop.

Once again he opens it and sighs.

He grabs his keys and a large toolbox and finally he heads out. This time Cole is forced to once again repair one of the old AC units.

“I found out from the district that they’re budgeting for new air conditioners to replace the old ones within the next year or two,” Cole said.

In charge of the whole operation was Principal Lisa Gruman.

On Monday afternoon Gruman stood outside in the scorching sunlight, sweat running down her face. 

That day, students complained about how hot it was in the auxiliary gym, the heat inside the buses, and about having to walk back home in the heat.

Dr. Gruman’s radio beeps and hums. A voice comes from within, it sounds worried and a bit frustrated: one of the buses canceled. 

Minutes passed, Gruman and other administrators had gone in and out of the building, trying their best to bring water bottles and other utilities to bus drivers. At 2:45 p.m. all the buses were gone, all the students were taken care of and the sun was high in the sky. Gruman at last let go, she took a deep breath, and walked into the building.

With the temperature rising, the school had to spend extra funds to keep the school a safe place for all.

“I’m not sure what the costs would have been in the cooling process, that’s kind of managed at the district level,” Gruman said. “But in terms of just our typical expenses, that wouldn’t have changed much except for utilities.”

Temperatures rose above 100-degrees for five days straight, practices changed to early in the morning, custodians were assigned more tasks, and the principal was forced to bear the heat. 

“This was something I had seen before.” Gruman said.

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