Two High School Pod ceiling tiles fall, one hits student


Clara Martinez

A maintenance team member repairs a fallen ceiling tile in the Top Orange supply closet Jan. 12. Another ceiling tile fell in Bottom O an hour prior.

Clara Martinez, Lead Culture Editor

Two ceiling tiles fell within two hours in the High School Pod Jan. 12. While one tile fell in the print and supply closet, another fell in Bottom O and hit Gabrielle Yurin (’23), who was eating lunch. 

“I was sitting with my back to the wall, and then I just saw the faces of everyone around me like, completely shocked,” Yurin said. “And then I just felt something fall on me.”

While she said she was not directly hit by the tile, Yurin said an injury was only nearly avoided.

“I didn’t get hurt luckily,” Yurin said. “If any of us in the area we’re sitting, like, literally an inch closer to the wall, we would have definitely gotten hurt.”

Director of Operations Jim Heynderickx said falling tiles are usually a “knock-on effect,” and the tiles are not typically dislodged without the initial impact of another object.

“They don’t just get old and fall out,” Heynderickx said. “They’re a pretty stable material.”

They don’t just get old and fall out. They’re a pretty stable material

— Director of Operations Jim Heynderickx

Heynderickx said an approximate half-inch overhang around the perimeter of each tile, keeping them balanced on top of the metal framework. As a result, he said a falling tile would be the outcome of an issue with the grid frames. 

“It’s nothing really wrong with the ceiling tile,” Heynderickx said. “It has to do with the grid possibly being knocked to make the grid a little bit off-center.”

Kingston Bridges (’24) said he had also been hit by a tile after he jumped in a hallway with a low ceiling. He said he wishes the tiles could be more stable in areas where they are more likely to get knocked down.

“I don’t know if we could get those secured in areas where it’s really low, like there’s low clearance,” Bridges said.

Heynderickx said the tiles were last replaced five to seven years ago, and the next time they are replaced will be in tandem with the long-term renovation plans already scheduled. He said the grid framework in Bottom O would be adjusted when they returned the tile to its place.

Next year, Bridges said he plans to spend time around Bottom O as a Grade 12 student, which makes him concerned about a tile falling in the future.

“That’s really freaky,” Bridges said. “It wasn’t like, crazy heavy, but they’re kind of thick.”

In addition, Yurin said she is “concerned about the safety of the school” beyond the two areas that have been checked when resetting the tiles on the grid frame.

“There is some kind of issue,” Yurin said. “I just hope that the safety of the, you know, students is being looked after.”