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The Campanile

The Campanile

The Campanile

Column: In Loving Memory of Fire Alarms


Like most students and faculty, I once believed fire alarms were something to despise. Upon hearing them, I flashed back to other cringe-worthy moments like the time I accidentally walked into the wrong Spanish classroom, or when InFocus compared the loss of a high school wrestling match to deaths in a slave rebellion.

After the final fire alarm in January of this year, however, I realized that certain aspects of my life improved drastically as a result of the alarms. My body mass index dropped significantly, for instance. And while one might assume this happened because of the unbearable stress of being a second-semester senior, I believe the change directly resulted from the 568 Fitbit steps I took during the round trip to the football field — the equivalent of over a month of exercise per my normal routine.

As a result, I have grown both quick and agile despite what Mr. Fung or my P.E. fitness testing scores might tell you. In fact, because of my newfound speed, I now sprint across the Embarcadero crossing on my way to buy Kirk’s double steakburgers.

So who can I thank? Several years ago, one school administrator asked students to thank a spider that supposedly crawled through an alarm’s wiring (they must have dealt with a horrible infestation during AP testing). More recently, however, now-Principal Adam Paulson revealed in a Schoology post that the alarms are often caused by a small group of Paly students. Though Paulson failed to publicly identify them, I have heard whisperings of a ninety-seventh club at Paly responsible for our mini-workouts — one that didn’t show up for club day and perhaps the only one not specifically designed to sparkle on your college applications.

Supposedly, the club’s clandestine meetings are usually held during the first 45 minutes of a period, traditionally in the bathrooms of the Media Arts Center, the art building, or the 800s. While the club lacks an official teacher advisor, it is occasionally supervised from a distance by faculty riding bikes and golf carts. Club activities — which boast real-world impacts like dictating the direction of contentious congressional hearings and incriminating Instagram ads alike — include the ceremonial lighting of incense, a hunt for precious jewels, and the confusing of uninitiated freshmen.

We must always remember the life of the alarms not simply as the byproduct of our school’s gifted mineralogists, but as a pleasant time — a time when the biggest threat to student health could easily be resolved with a hundred dollars for a Britzgo Digital Hearing Aid and a few thousand for a bout of chemotherapy. Dearly departed alarms, though I gaze wistfully at your scarlet corpse at least once per Campanile class discussion, Paly has proven a more peaceful place without you. In other words, please stay dead.

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