Jefferson Junior High Makes the Best of Fifth Early-Release Day

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COLUMBIA - Test day Wednesday at Jefferson Junior High meant business as usual--up to a point. The light hum of fans drowned out Susie Adams' voice as she gave instructions to her eighth grade social studies class. The noise from three ceiling fans and four portable fans added a layer of difficulty to what should have been a normal school day, but students cooperated and continued working diligently in their 89-degree classroom.

Jefferson Junior High is one of two Columbia schools without air conditioning and Wednesday marked the fifth early-release day due to the heat this school year. The third floor -- where Adams teaches -- is the warmest floor between West Junior High and Jefferson Junior High.

"We have 25 minutes per class and it's pretty hard to get a full lesson in," Adams said.

But the shorter school days haven't been a huge problem; teachers collaborate on lessons and dole out more homework to ensure instruction times isn't lost.

Jefferson Junior High Principal Greg Caine said the buildings age and structure makes it prone trap heat inside.

"We have a building that's 102 years old, so, it wasn't designed with air conditioning in mind," Caine said. 

The excessive heat has also caused some minor health concerns. Nurses have tended to five kids for "heat aggravation."

Caine said because of the school's age group, which includes eighth and ninth grade students, parents and teachers are more comfortable with students going home alone than they would be with younger students.

Students will be released again early on Thursday. Both West Junior High and Jefferson Junior High Schools are expected to get air conditioning within the next two years.