- Rachel Kolko
‘Full WWE’: Walls Confronts Mice in Classrooms
Dr. Bright’s onetime anti-mouse weapon / Credits: Rachel Kolko
Every mouse that has called room 24 home for the last five years has been named Ralph.
“It was always Ralph,” Dr. Thomas Bright explained. All 20 to 30 of them.
Unfortunately for him, the physics classroom that Dr. Bright has taught in for the last five years is located on the basement floor next to the warm utility room, which often has served as a home for any mouse who wanted to make its way into the School Without Walls community.
“If you have one mouse and you get rid of that mouse, then another one will come in and take over. But it's just easier to call them Ralph.”
Mice have infested the school building for as long as some faculty can remember, and those teaching in the basement have had a front row seat to it all.
Art teacher Jason Bulluck, whose classroom is right down the hall from the physics room, has been frequently interrupted by Ralphs while in the middle of teaching. “I go full WWE, you know what I mean? I’m coming off the top rope on those jokers,” he joked. “What do I do? Nothing. I’m kind of live-and-let-live in general. I don’t like to kill any living things,” he explained, saying he prefers to leave that up to the exterminators.
Typically, the appearance of a mouse disrupts Mr. Bulluck’s class. “It's gonna stop things. People are going to comment on it,” he said. “We’re gonna observe the visitor and think about it together, you know how it goes.”
Dr. Bright described more intense student reactions to their mice visitors. “Think of what happens when a student sees a wasp in your room and then multiply that by 10,” he described. “You’ve got the classic ‘oh my God’ jump onto the table type of thing, and then you have kids raising holy heck just because they can.”
Though the heat coming from the basement provides warmth for mice, what really attracts them is food, according to both Dr. Bright and Mr. Bulluck. “I had a pack of Oreos on my desk,” Mr. Bulluck recalled. “I came back, and uh, there were no Oreos. The Oreos had been replaced with a similarly colored substance.” Since then, he has learned his lesson, and doesn’t keep food in his classroom that a mouse could easily access.
Alfonso Jones, a member of the custodial staff, advised students and faculty to be cautious of the food they bring into class. “Any type of food draws them,” he explained. However, if students have “something like a container, something they can’t eat through, then you’re safe.”
To the delight of many teachers and staff, there have been far fewer mouse sightings since the pandemic. “Having no one in the building for two years solved the problem,” Dr. Bright said, given no one was bringing food into the building.
Harrison Davis, who also teaches in room 24, recalled watching Dr. Bright “chase a mouse with a baseball bat.” The mouse had been hiding in between the row of storage bins at the side of the classroom before it was driven out. Mr. Davis was quick to clarify that the bat never made contact with the mouse.
But as Mr. Jones said, as long as there is food they can reach, the mice will be drawn back into the building. “As long as you're kind of staying on top of it, then you won't see them,” he said.