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The Long, Hot Weekend

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Maintenance workers at a St. Petersburg, Fla., high school thought the long Labor Day weekend would be the perfect time to try out a new tactic in their perennial battle against mold and mildew.

The air-conditioning system in Lakewood Senior High School clearly was not up to the task of removing mold-inducing moisture from the city's humid air. So the workers decided instead to try jacking up the heating over the weekend, in hopes of drying out the air in the building and killing the mold.

Events, to put it kindly, did not unfold exactly as planned.

Actually, most of the mold did die as a result of the heat. With temperatures in the building reaching 130 degrees, though, so did all the plants, snakes, rodents, tropical fish, and other animals in the school's laboratories.

When students and teachers returned to school on Tuesday morning, they were greeted by stifling heat, buckled floors, and a distressing quantity of dead things.

The school's video tapes were also victimized by the heat, but computers in the building weathered the high temperature, reports Lakewood's principal, Barbara Broughton.

Although teachers and students were dismayed by the loss of animals and materials, Ms. Broughton says, members of the community have come to their aid. "People wanted to be helpful and have replaced, through donations, just about all the animals and plants," she reports.

No sooner had Lakewood overcome one disaster, however, when another one struck. Four days of heavy rain led to flooding, forcing workers to spend the week after Labor Day "sandbagging the back of the building, which was covered in water up to the ankles," says a weary Ms. Broughton.--jw

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