Silverado Fire Pushed Back Curricula


Kelthie Troung

As the first Silverado fire spread towards Irvine, many communities were forced to evacuate and Portola High shut down for three days. The closure pressured students and teachers from all departments to reschedule plans and work distribution.

The October Silverado fire caused many Orange County neighborhoods to evacuate, with Portola High closing from Oct. 26-28 and causing many class curricula to be pushed back.

The fire caused complications and necessitated compromises for both teachers and students regarding work distribution, testing and timelines.

“My family did have to evacuate, not because we live in the evacuation zone, but because we live close, and the smoke inside of our house was so bad I didn’t want my 8-month-old breathing it in,” chemistry teacher and soccer coach Jeralyn Newton said. “All of my courses were affected by the fires. Both Honors and CP chemistry were supposed to test the week the fires happened, but we had to postpone the test until later. This pushed back out the curriculum schedule for about a week.”

Newton was able to remove certain assignments from her unit calendar after meeting with the other chemistry teachers. However, others such as math teacher Sarah Alewine were not so fortunate. Alewine did not evacuate during the fire, but all of her classes were affected.

“Everything was pushed back a week, since I was supposed to test in all classes. In ASB, we were supposed to have Red Ribbon Week and Halloween Costume Contest,” Alewine said. “We did the costume contest virtually and Red Ribbon Week the following week.”

Junior Hassan Samiullah evacuated for almost a day, traveling to Laguna Beach, Pasadena and finally to a hotel back in Irvine. Samiullah said that he feels that his teachers handled the situation well.

“My teachers extended deadlines for assignments, but I felt like dates for some future assignments and assessments were squeezed together, which is understandable considering the situation,” Samiullah said. “Besides, busy schedules aren’t anything rare in high school.”

Despite the chaos and compromises that the school closure involved, Newton, Alewine and Samiullah all expressed that they were satisfied with the length of the closure and believed it gave enough time to re-evaluate lessons and conform to evacuation orders.

“It was good that they canceled school on Tuesday and Wednesday because so many staff and students were misplaced, but then it was also nice to slowly ease back into school on Thursday and Friday with the distance learning days,” Newton said.