Unlocking Level B provides answers


Photo credit: Meghan Joyce

Mechanical Coordinator Paul Hecht explains the inner workings of the basement equipment. “Essentially the basement is the mechanical heart of the entire campus,” Hecht said.

Without the basement, students would have to huddle for warmth during the freezing winters, survive without the technology department, and make due without running water. The most essential floor to St. Paul Academy and Summit School, the basement is the one that keeps the school running. Often, students are not aware that it even exists.

“A lot of key infrastructure aspects happen out of sight of the school’s general population,” Mechanical Coordinator Paul Hecht said. “Essentially the basement is the mechanical heart of the entire campus.”

The maintenance staff accesses the basement with a key. They are willing to give tours to anyone who asks. Still, students don’t go to the basement very often. According to Hecht, Upper School science teacher Dr. Steve Heilig took his whole advisory on a tour last year.

“[We] usually give one or two [tours] per year,” Hecht said. “When it’s an unknown, people want to make stories in their head about what’s actually down there. They want to find out what the true deal is.”

It can get uncomfortably warm in the basement with the two massive boilers with a combined 375 horsepower running to heat the campus. They have been there as long as the new middle school, around 14 years, and should stay there forty more. To their closest friends, especially maintenance staff, the boilers are known as Bessie and Betsy.

“The motivation behind picking those names for the boilers is beyond me….I thought they sounded more like cow names than boilers,” Hecht said.

Hecht said that Bessie and Betsy are some of the main attractions for the few visitors to the basement. “I hope some of them did [find something interesting]. A lot of them haven’t ever really seen working boilers before,” Hecht said.