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Beloved Fish Tank Explodes in College Counseling Office


   A 150-gallon fish tank in the college counseling office suffered a critical sealant crack last Tuesday Feb. 13, leading to the water quickly draining out. Amidst the chaos, two of the 20 fish died, as Pinewood’s science teachers and administrative staff worked diligently to salvage the remaining ecosystem.

   Biology teacher Monica Ventrice was one of many teachers who helped. Despite arriving on scene later, she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

   “When I got there, most of the tank’s water was on the ground, so I was just trying to get the fish out of their old tank and into their new one,” Ventrice said. “Everyone else was actively scooping the remaining water out and putting it in buckets.”

   The majority of the organisms made it out alive and are thriving in their new environments: two temporary, mini tanks on campus.

   “Since it’s such a very fragile ecosystem, I’m amazed that the fish are surviving out of the tanks they’re in now,” said Assistant Director of College Counseling Carolyn Siegel, who was in the room when the sealant crack occurred. 

   Despite the rupture, Director of College Counseling Marvin Coote, who owns the tank, considered it lucky that there was minimal water damage; only a fraction of the tank’s capacity reached the floor.

   The fish tank was set up three years ago and became a symbol of comfort within the Pinewood community, as it provided a distraction for students stressed about college.

   “It’s a source of love and calm, which is a nice part since it’s inside the college counseling office,” Siegel said.

   Both Coote and Siegel didn’t see any prior indications of deterioration, making the sudden leak much more surprising. 

   “I kind of had it in the back of my mind [that the fish tank might break]…, but I have to say I was very frazzled,” Siegel said.

   After the incident, Siegel called the front office to let them know of the situation, and students came immediately to help while waiting for maintenance. 

   Siegel expressed a mix of shock and admiration for the community’s response. Students went as far as grabbing lost-and-found sweaters to mop up the water, she said.

   “The way everyone came together to try to find a solution in a very-high stress situation was a very Pinewood moment,” Siegel said. 

   Coote said he will likely not replace the tank.

   “I’m moving and will have a much larger commute to the school compared to before, so I was planning to take down the fish tank this summer anyways,” Coote said. 

   Coote has reached out to his online fish community and has decided to give away the tank and its ecosystem to one of the fish enthusiast group members.  

   Students say they are sad to see the fish tank go. 

   “I love going into Mr. Coote’s office and seeing the fish tank,” junior Michael Shtrom said. “It really lightened my mood whenever I’d have a meeting in there.” 


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