A Vermont school shut down because of toxic chemicals. Now it’s moved to a Macy’s

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. once / wʌns / (adv.) – in the past, but not anymore

    A castle once stood on this spot, but now, there are just a few stones left.

  2. renovation / ˌrɛn əˈveɪ ʃən / (n.) – the act or process of making repairs and improvements to a room, house, building, etc. to bring it back to a good condition

    The supermarket will be closed for renovations next month.

  3. soil / sɔɪl / (n.) – the substance on the top layer of earth where plants grow

    The soil in our garden is very hard, so it’s difficult to grow many plants.

  4. in person / ɪn ˈpɜr sən / (adv.) – while one is physically present at a place

    They’ve been online friends for five years, but this is the first time that they’re seeing each other in person.

  5. senior / ˈsin yər / (n.) – a student who’s in his/her final year of high school or college

    Most high school seniors are 17 or 18 years old.


Read the text below.

Students who once shopped at a downtown mall in Burlington, Vermont, are now attending high school in a former Macy’s department store.

About seven months ago, Downtown Burlington High School was in the middle of renovations. But toxic industrial chemicals called PCBs were found in the building and the soil, so the school was shut down.

That left students stuck at home learning remotely for much of the school year during the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials looked for a space to hold classes in person. Eventually they decided to try the empty Macy’s department store. It closed in 2018 and is only about 2 miles (3.2 km) away.

There are some challenges with loud noise, but the school is working, officials said.

“I just am so much happier being around people,” said senior Lila Iyengar Lehman, 18. (AP)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Toxic industrial chemicals were found in the building and soil during renovations. If you were a student or teacher at the school, how worried would you be? Why? Discuss.
  • What do you think about the school’s decision to hold classes in a former Macy’s department store? Why? Discuss.
  • Officials said that there are some challenges with loud noise. What other challenges do you think the students and teachers are facing as they hold classes in an empty department store? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Students were stuck at home learning remotely for much of the school year. Do you think remote learning can be as effective as in-class learning? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • One senior said that she was so much happier being around people. Do you think all the students feel that way? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Did many schools in your country switch to remote learning last year? If so, are they still doing it now? Why or why not? Discuss.