The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper


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School reacts to termite infestation

Teachers notice dead bugs after returning from Spring Break

When Dr. Christopher Bass, a SC IPC teacher, entered his classroom after LT’s nine-day spring break; he expected an empty room ready to host his many classes throughout the day. What met him instead was a complete termite infestation.

“A student pointed at a ‘dirty’ desk and asked ‘What’s covering my desk?’’’ Bass recounted. ‘It looked like ‘white rice.’”

This was an unfortunate reality for teachers, including Bass, in B wing on Tuesday, April 2 the first day coming back from spring break. And it was the second time this year SC experienced an issue with termites, the first occurring on March 13 in the counselor’s office. Both issues were resolved by the LT buildings and grounds staff.

Timothy Chromzack, Buildings and Ground manager at LT for the last nine months, has years of experience. Working 35 years at the Brookfield Zoo has given him a wealth of experience, so when he was informed of the termite infestation he took “immediate action.” 

“Buildings and Grounds has many decisions you have to respond quickly to,” stated Chromzack, and that the necessary “first step to addressing is identification, just like weeds.”

As this variety of termite cannot survive above ground long, the Buildings and Grounds team used gel that kills the termites and their entire nest below ground. The Smithereen Pest Control Company has worked with LT for several years and who, Chromzack stated, “came out immediately.” 

For Chromzack, keeping others informed is key, as he not only has meetings with Principal Jennifer Tyrell every Monday, but he also tries to ensure all the teachers know what is happening.

“I’m very transparent. I don’t make stuff up like telling [teachers] it’s flying ants when it’s not,” Chromzack said. “I take it upon myself to talk to the teachers and check on everybody.”

Speech Arts and IPC teacher Kirsten Manthei’s classroom was on the receiving end of these effective treatments. When she entered her room after Spring Break she was met with an infestation that reminded her of similar issues.

Last year, “the construction on the AC tore up stuff outside and led to more bugs and gnats on the floor” Manthei stated “and there were piles [of termites] on desks.”

While this year’s infestation was similar in nature, LT’s response has changed. According to Manthei, last year students had to simply move seats and endure the low-flying bugs due to the spray effectively drugging, not killing the termites. This year, however, Manthei reports faster responses from LT.

“Last year was way worse but this year’s reaction was significantly better and more on top of it,” Manthei stated. “[Last year] my classroom was 85 degrees but due to the spray and the increase in bugs I couldn’t open the windows of the room”

SC’s infestation the year prior was much worse in classrooms because the termites were not identified. The previous Buildings and Grounds Manager identified them as flying ants, and no treatment was ever administered. 

“Last year [the termites] were all over B wing,” SC Associate Principal Greg Gardner said. “You couldn’t sit in the student lounge area, it was so bad.”

This year, on March 19, Chromzack identified the bugs as termites, and treatment was applied. Using the company Smithereen Pest Management, treatment began Thursday, March 21, and continued throughout spring break. 

The termites have built homes in the tunnels underneath the school, specifically A Wing, B Wing, and D Wing. Termites have been spotted aboveground in both A and B Wing but not in D. The termites are emerging from the ground into the school in order to mate. 

“The first few days back from [spring] break were hectic,” Gardner said. “I spent a lot more time in the B Wing.” 

While Gardner was spending time in B Wing, certain classes that usually met there were not. During the week of April 2-5, two classrooms were relocated, and the week of April 8-12 one classroom was relocated due to the infestation. While some teachers like Bass were easily able to move classrooms, others were not. 

“Getting another room in the library was challenging as they were already booked and I was irritated because only so many spaces had the correct capacities such as a projector and video,” Manthei recalled.

Additionally, the termites are an annoyance to students.

 “They’re really distracting when they’re flying on your desk and crawling by you,” Mya Martinez ‘26 said. Martinez is a student in Mathei’s first period class. “[The termites] are really gross,” she said, “and they’re all over the classroom.”

While the termites are a nuisance to students and staff, they are not a hazard, Gardner said. The termites in classrooms are not the type that eats wood, so the termites are not causing any damage to the school. Instead, these termites are simply emerging from their residences to mate, and they will not cause harm to the school or the students and staff. 

“I’m hopeful that the treatment started weeks ago mitigated the effects of the termites,” Gardner said. “[We got] ahead of it unlike last year.”

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