Late summer heat wave broils region
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/302-0949 August 28, 2013 12:00AM
Gary Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts eighth-grader Blessing Graddick (red headband) shares a laugh with a classmate in math class Tuesday as a large fan kept their room a little cooler. | Carole Carlson\Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 29, 2013 6:46AM
A late summer heat wave baked the region Tuesday, causing some schools to dismiss classes early.
Temperatures reached the mid-90s, translating to about 103 degrees on the heat index, according to the National Weather Service.
Some relief is expected is expected Wednesday and Thursday, but temperatures will still be in the mid-80s. The 90s return on Friday through the weekend with lower temperatures expected by Labor Day.
A Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts student received an unwanted science lesson as she sat through a class on the school’s third floor. “Heat rises,” Principal Adrian Richie told the students after she complained that it was hotter than the school’s lower floors.
Gary Community School Corp. officials dismissed school early at Jefferson Elementary and the Lew Wallace STEM Academy because of sweltering temperatures that made classrooms in two of the district’s oldest buildings uncomfortable.
Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt toured the schools before deciding to let students go early. Spokeswoman Charmella Greer said the district provided heavy-duty fans and water to the schools.
Students at the Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts received the go-ahead to dismiss an hour early, but students gutted out the day with fans, water and air purifiers. Half of Wirt-Emerson has air-conditioning, but students in third-floor classrooms relied on fans to keep cool.
“We asked teachers to keep windows open and allowed students to get water,” Richie said. “The upstairs is what we worry about.”
Richie said attendance was normal, however. He said the school’s proximity to Lake Michigan might have created a cooler breeze and dropped temperatures a little.
English teacher Jose Reed said he bought some air purifiers to his classroom because they will keep it cooler and protect students from contaminants. “Sucking out that impure air helps to cool it down,” he said. “The kids are not complaining.”