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Novi high school evacuated before first hour on May 1

Assistant principal Jacqueline Smith confirms alarms were a result of a pressure change in sprinkler system
Alexander Dyga
Students gather outside the Novi Public Library after evacuating the high school.

The morning of May 1, fire alarms disrupted the morning routine of Novi High School students and staff. The alarms began at 7:52. First hour had yet to begin and many people were still wandering the halls. This was a new experience for students and staff. Despite this, the evacuation proceeded smoothly.


Assistant Principal Jacqueline Smith praised the students’ performance the day after.


“I thought it (the evacuation) went great. It’s actually one of those things that is a blessing in disguise, if you will, because we don’t usually prepare that way. The majority of our students were on campus, but we usually have all of our students with the adults in the classrooms when we do our drills. So this was actually a great experience; to see that we could do it swiftly and safely. I was very impressed with the way our students and staff handled the situation.”


Two fire trucks and a supervisor responded, deeming the school safe at 8:17 a.m. Students slowly trickled into the building with first hour beginning roughly twenty minutes late.


The cause of the alarms was unknown at the time but later identified by Smith.


“We were informed that the alarms went off due to some off site pipes that may have experienced a change in pressure. As a result the sprinkler systems here were triggered (without going off), causing the alarms to go off… There was no real emergency, but we didn’t know that at the time,” Smith said.


As students exited the high school, confusion spread like a wildfire. Many rumors began to circulate- ranging wildly from a hypothesized prank to an explosion in the kitchen.


Smith clarified why the student body was not given details on the situation.


“There is not an easy way in the middle of an emergency to talk to the student body. There was some discussion afterwards between myself, Principal Carter, and our head of security Detective Moulik about making better use of a new system we are using called “Raptor,” which is allowing us to communicate in the event of emergencies. We’re encouraging staff to have that on their phone or another device.”


Despite the lack of information, the atmosphere outside remained fairly calm. 


“I wasn’t scared, just confused. We didn’t know the cause of the fire alarm going off, but because we had evacuated I didn’t feel like I was in any danger,” said junior Rey Ugajin. “At first I thought it was a drill, but then we saw the fire trucks coming. I started to think that it was an accident.”


Many students shared similar opinions. Others took the situation with levity.


“I was in the atrium when the alarm went off,” said junior Ethan Kim. “I was just excited. Thought I might get to go home. It wasn’t that serious.”


This story was originally published May 1, 2024 and updated as new information became available on May 2, 2024.


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Alexander Dyga
Alexander Dyga, Staff Writer
Alexander Dyga is a Junior. This is his first year on staff. Alex enjoys reading, writing, and gaming for an unhealthy amount of time. He is the recipient of 5 MIPA awards honorable mention awards- 4 for sports photography and 1 for news brief writing. There’s a story everywhere. If you have one contact him at [email protected].
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