Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
The current state of education is a topic on the minds of many parents, teachers and students — but one school in Lexington, Kentucky, is dealing with another very clear and present danger in the form of wildlife.
The problem is that the wildlife is not remaining wild: It has started to creep into the school itself.
The buildings at Henry Clay High School were built in the 1970s — and it shows. According to WTVQ-TV, the school has already suffered through air conditioning issues in the hotter parts of the year. Promises to modernize the school abound, but many are still waiting for things to change.
The most recent issues, according to teachers at the school, involve uninvited guests of the insect, rodent and reptile sort, prompting impromptu biology lessons for a range of classes.
The unwelcome “class pet” getting the most notice at the moment is a young rat snake, found by English teacher Nathan Spalding.
According to what he told the Lexington Herald-Leader, he was in his classroom at around 7:35 a.m. on Sept. 21 when he suddenly realized that what had first looked like a scrunchie on the classroom phone was no scrunchie at all.
“I got closer and realized it was a snake,” he said.
The shocking discovery was not an isolated incident, and Spalding took to social media to let people know the state of affairs at the school.
“I certainly did not anticipate having a baby snake fall from the ceiling and cuddle my phone,” he wrote on Facebook.
“This little guy gave me quite the surprise this morning. Special thanks to Molly Haggerty Jones for calling someone to help and for reaching out to KY Fish and Wildlife, who identified this as a rat snake.
“Our school is infested with roaches, spiders, and mice. Our school now seems to also have a nest of snakes living in the ceiling.
“Just another day living the dream…”
The harmless baby snake was safely escorted outside, but its presence was a reminder of the vermin it was likely hunting.
Mice have been an incessant pest on the school grounds, and while most sightings happen outside of student hours, the teachers and staff are painfully aware of their existence.
One teacher reported that three mice fell from her ceiling while she was in her classroom. During a faculty back-to-school meeting, another mouse scampered through the cafeteria.
On Sept. 22, during one class, a mouse fell from the ceiling and landed on a student’s desk, prompting a bit of chaos.
“It landed on a student’s desk and caused quite a commotion,” Spalding said.
“I feel like when snakes and mice are dropping from your ceiling, I feel like this is an emergency,” Jeni Ward, another teacher, said. “We can’t wait.”
The school has been circulating a response to the incident, noting that this time of year the pests are especially prevalent and that they’re doing their best to stem the tide.
“As the weather begins to turn cooler it is not uncommon for rodents and pests to find their way into buildings,” the school wrote in part, according to WTVQ-TV.
“Each fall, our buildings and grounds maintenance teams work proactively to lay traps and spray repellent. Additionally, last week, our building was evaluated and treated by professional exterminators as part of the district’s ongoing maintenance protocols.
“We will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure that henry clay high school is a welcoming place to learn — and work.”
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