Cover Image by Helena Warner
On Monday, September 3rd, Ms. Woll’s first period AP Environmental Science class discovered a sudden issue with their aquaponics projects: the fish were missing. Fish are vital to aquaponics systems, which grow plants in water enriched by the fish’s waste. However, students were not immediately concerned. According to Woll, “one group said, ‘Our fish is missing. I told the group ‘you probably are not looking hard enough, a lot of these containers are dark plastic, it’s hard to see in there.’” But when her second period class reported four missing fish, Woll realized, “We had an issue. That is not normal.”
Students also chose to ignore the preliminary reports. Senior Walden Hoddie said, “I did not believe the groups who had missing fish.” After four other groups reported missing fish, students began calculating the last time they’d seen their fish. Students added fish to their aquaponics systems on Thursday, and the fish were still there at the end of school on Friday. Witnesses told Woll that they saw the fish on Saturday when they were at school for sports.
Eventually, Woll checked security camera footage. She said that security camera footage showed “Two kids taking the fish out and putting them in the main tank. These kids were not students at M-A. They looked young. I would wager one was in elementary school and the other maybe in middle school.” As for their motive, she said, “I think they saw one dead fish, which sometimes happens, and that was the first tank that they saw. Then they left and came back with cups. They spent an hour scooping the fish out of the projects and into the main tank.”
Original suspects were far different from the eventual conclusion. Woll said, “My first thoughts were raccoons or the cats on campus.” But then APES students became potential suspects. Woll set up an anonymous tip line on her APES Instagram account. “In my anonymous tip line, people were accusing classmates. But no names were consistent.” Woll was sure that it wasn’t one of her students. She said, “I know my students worked so hard on these projects and everyone was so genuinely confused.” But Hoddie was not as sure. “My thought was, ‘It could have been someone from our school.’ I know plenty of people who would do that.”
Once the truth was finally uncovered, APES students were relieved that the fish were still alive: the younger kids just put them back into the large tank. Hoodie said, “It definitely was not our first thought. They were well-intentioned and it was a little funny.”