The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Eighth Grader Saves the Day


“I turned around and just heard something,” recalled 8th grade English teacher Arnelle Williams. Even though the incident occurred just over a month ago, she recalls it vividly. On April 22, 2024, Williams was casually analyzing “Cool Salsa, a book detailing 36 different vibrant voices, as a courtesy of the 8th-grade poetry unit in room 124, when a loose whiteboard abruptly fell on her, invoking mayhem in the classroom and putting her safety in jeopardy. 

Williams enjoys writing on whiteboards and often utilizes them in lessons. She was astounded when the incident happened. Williams mentioned that prior to the event, “the whiteboard on the left closest to the door — I knew it was a little bit wonky,” but she thought that there wasn’t a chance of it falling because of the numerous safety precautions that are taken by Poly maintenance and operations teams to ensure that classrooms are up-to-code. 

She explained that it all happened “so quick,” and before she knew it, she turned around and felt an immense weight on her shoulders. The ridges on the whiteboard punctured her finger, causing a small cut on her middle finger of her right hand, which became progressively worse as the days went on. She felt that it was tough to balance the strong and radical emotions she was facing with the true need for someone’s help in the moment because of the sheer weight of the whiteboard. In addition, Williams mentioned, “I felt like I had to put on a brave face because I’m understanding that I’m in front of students — they’ve probably never seen this happen before,” Luckily, she didn’t have to wait much longer because a student, in true Poly Prep fashion, came to her rescue.

Arthur McFayden immediately rushed to her aid, helping her support the weight of the whiteboard while it was coming off its hinges. When asked why he decided to step in, he wrote that he was just “the closest person to her at the time and I saw my chance to help someone.” Williams greatly appreciated his kindness and support. McFayden also won a Character in Action award, which is awarded to a couple of Middle School students who exemplify integrity and respect. 

When she saw her finger, she knew it would bleed, so she retrieved a napkin from her bag and continued teaching. “Immediately, I prioritized finishing the lesson,” she told The Polygon in an interview. She had an optimal hairstyle — a high ponytail, which broke the fall of the whiteboard on her head, only causing a small incision on her finger. The cut hasn’t caused any major complications. The class was right before the forum and clubs blocks, which provided an opportunity to go to the nurse. Afterwards, she emailed the Middle School senior administration. 

However, McFayden’s heroic act of kindness has raised larger and deeper questions for Williams surrounding upstandership. McFayden was the only student who came to Williams’s rescue, which has raised questions for Williams on how to promote an upstander culture in the Poly Prep community — will students help people in times of distress and uncertainty? “What’s missing is practicing scenarios in which something could happen — how would you respond?” she said in reference to the absence of “upstander” workshops this year.

In the meantime, although these unique and peculiar situations serve as anomalies in a person’s everyday life, it is important that one has these situations “on your radar” and people stay attentive to their surroundings to ensure they are ready for such events. Williams thinks that no one is to blame for the incident, but it is rather an issue about education that should be tackled as a community. The moment has taught her to reflect and has created a pause in her life.

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Arzouian
Charlotte Arzouian, Middle School Editor
Following her second year writing for The Polygon, Charlotte Arzouian is now the current middle school editor this year. Charlotte originally developed a passion for journalism at a young age, when she would write a small newspaper detailing the current events for her friends and family every week. When she came to Poly Prep in 6th grade, she immediately joined the Polygon, and last year, stepped into her role as the middle school editor. She is thrilled to continue in that position this year and is working to engage the younger students at Poly in the journalistic process. Charlotte plays soccer and is a dedicated member of Poly's middle school debate and dance programs as well as the middle school string ensemble. In her spare time, she likes to cook, test new ice cream flavors, and hang out with friends.

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