The Mercury Spill at Ballou SHS


On October 2nd 2003 about 11:30 a/m. during 4th period there was mercury spill in Ballou Senior High School. I was in JROTC and all of a sudden Ms. Smith a security guard for the school came down stairs to the rec center in the bottom of the school, she told the teachers something in a private conversation then a student ran over and said that someone had planted a bomb in the basement of the school. After a while everyone begin to hear of the false story that was going around. So everyone begin to run out of the school, some students left school grounds, some caught the bus home, some were stopped by the police. The rest of the students were told to go to the football stadium for further instructions. It was cold as we listen to the principal tell us what had happened in the school to cause us to evacuate the building. We were told that someone had stolen some mercury that was stored in an unused honors chemistry lab that was scheduled to be renewed. Doc told us that we were going to be able to return to school the next day. But that night my step mom and I watched TV that evening after school that’s when we found out that there weren’t going to be any school the next day or maybe for the rest of the month.


On October 6th we were screened for mercury; and then we assigned to certain buses. Some of us were sent to Hart Middle School and the rest were sent to the Convention Center for classes which led to: shorter school days, long bus rides home and many complaints about textbooks and other supplies some didn’t learn much. We first had classes in the gym, but it begin to interfere with the physical education classes so later in a week period we were then moved downstairs by the cafeteria of Hart Middle School. After the first week students begin to skin school to go to the Convention Center with the older students. We ate horrible lunch; after begin torn of our food chooses we had at Ballou. We had to wait for along time just to get in the building, it was terrible students always were trying to fight each other.


On November 5th we went back to Ballou everything was crazy the school seemed more crowded then usual, we had to go to the class that we were in on the day of the mercury incident. At the end of the day a man fired several shots at a passing car half a block from the school, the security guards were yelling “get back in the building”! The next day there was abhorrent fight some people said it was over a North Face Coat and some said it was over what hood they were repping. The next day six girls started fighting downstairs by JROTC room they were arrested and suspended from school. A week later after our return to school, since most of the students didn’t learn much at the alternative learning facilitations and some didn’t take the classes they took at Ballou so we had to go to an after school program called “Extended Tutorial”. After the mercury spill it had an appalling effect on everyone’s grades.


On November 15th I found out that it was a sixteen year old student that had stolen the mercury as well causing the school to shut down in addition to the evacuation of the school. My friend Latrice told me that the boy had a cupful of mercury and passed it around to his friends including her along with her cousin Miyonna. Latrice also told me that they carried it on pieces of paper, and they went to the gym to show the other students, she said it looked like the silver chains we use for our IDs; so she took it upon herself to pick it up and play with it to.


After all that was happening I was afraid to go to school I didn’t feel safe: or comfortable. I didn’t won’t to tell my step mom that, I didn’t won’t to