Greenhouse at King Tech High collapses from heavy snow load

King Tech High School greenhouse collapses in winter storm
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:30 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - King Tech High School in Anchorage is still feeling the effects of a major storm that happened in December.

Principal Dr. Kern McGinley said the school’s greenhouse collapsed under the weight of heavy snow at 2:40 a.m. on Dec. 15 following two substantial snowstorms.

“I was really shocked but not surprised, considering the amount of snow we had and the age of the structure itself, which is over 40 years old,” McGinley said.

McGinley also felt relief that no students were inside when the collapse happened.

In October, the school’s Alaska Farm and Food class moved to a science lab at nearby Wendler Middle School. McGinley said the program had shifted from growing flowers for a popular spring sale to growing sustainable foods indoor, mostly hydroponically. The greenhouse wasn’t particularly suited for that, and McGinley said the cost to heat it in the winter was astronomical.

But students were in the greenhouse as recently as the day before the collapse, according to teacher Kelly Ballantyne. Ballentyne said students working to clear snow from sidewalks had gone inside the greenhouse to plug in a snowblower.

“And that was 14 hours before it collapsed, I was in there with students. That was a little scary for me,” said Ballentyne. “We weren’t in there very often, but we were in there 14 hours before it collapsed.”

McGinley isn’t sure when or how the structure will be rebuilt. He said a lot depends on what the school district’s insurance will cover. But he’s hoping that the finished product will better suit the school’s needs.

“It opens up the doors for opportunities and I’m just hopeful that we can secure the funding needed to build bigger and better and more state-of-the-art,” McGinley said.

According to McGinley, the tear-down of the structure and salvage of anything inside could begin as early as next month.