Minnesingers collapse from heat

Two students who are a part of the Minnesingers fainted during practice at the MV Performing Arts Center. — George Brennan

Two students who are members of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Minnesingers fainted during their Monday practice at the Performing Arts Center. One other Minnesinger student almost collapsed as well. An ambulance was called to check on the students, but no one was taken to the hospital, according to an email performing arts department chair Abigail Chandler sent to parents. 

“It was warm in the PAC [Performing Arts Center], and the stage lights make it more so. In the interest of safety, we won’t be rehearsing in there again until the heat is fixed. It was a scary experience, but I would like to say how helpful and concerned everyone was for the well-being of their peers,” Chandler wrote in the email.

MVRHS brought back live music for its students earlier this month, and the Minnesingers are scheduled to perform at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on Dec. 10 and 11. 

MVRHS Assistant Principal Jeremy Light told The Times the students affected by the heat are “in good health,” and were able to attend school the next day. 

“In response to the weather, we turned the heating system for the school building on about 14 days ago for the season. The temperatures are not consistent across the building due to the age of our HVAC system. The temperature reached 76°, and students were under the bright stage lighting, wearing masks. It was this combination of factors that led to the situation. We are currently proposing an HVAC feasibility study to help us determine the best way forward with our HVAC system. For now, the facilities manager and custodial staff are working to remedy the situation and better monitor and adjust the temps,” Light wrote to the Times in an email. 

In 2015, the MVRHS committee approved $350,000 for short-term repairs to the school’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The repairs were intended to keep the air systems running for another three to five years. A complete replacement of the high school’s HVAC system was estimated to cost $4.8 million at the time. 


  1. Time to get energy efficient led lighting. —Time to get a new thermostat. You can buy a nice programable one at Shirley’s for about $30.
    I can’t believe they have one zone for the entire school.

  2. If only this were a mask issue. Students, in all departments, wear masks all day long, five days per week with no ambulances needed. This is a result of the disrespect principle Dingleday has for the MVRHS music and theater programs as shown by the severe budget cuts to, and the imbalance of these programs since she arrived to our once artsy island high school. Let’s see if an ambulance, and a little community outrage, will force her – or force our school committee to force her – to give some basic funds to these departments. (Of note, no ambulances have been called to the brand new weight room built for the football players.) This is a small community – talk to some (early) retired and much admired music teachers and ask them why they retired. There is a severe lack of respect, and therefore, funding to our music and arts programs. This is Martha’s Vineyard – it is heartbreaking to see such obvious and blatant disrespect given to the theatre and arts program for these high school children. It’s not just an HVAC issue – the PAC and music rooms are the only rooms with cold/heat issues – or at least the only rooms the administration does not care about. I was so saddened to read this article, but glad it is finally coming to light with our community. Ask a school committee member about how much money sports and other departments get versus music and arts – the latter of which is actually not supposed to be extracurricular and raise its own funds. Ask the HS administration, and ask your Superintendent why they are so shortchanged in the budget.
    And please, tell any children you know in those programs that they are valued by our community, despite the disrespect they are given at their high school.

    • Oh Thea I would love to to see this “new weight room built for football players”. It’s sad that you used this as an example. Seems as though you are playing the funding for minnesingers against the funding for the football program (to which there is none) You should know that in the late 80’s there were more football players in the minnesingers than there are total students in Minnesingers today.

    • That weight room you pointed out is available to all students and is not funded by the school. It’s funded by private donation and the fundraising efforts of the touchdown club… the football program as well as most sports on the island is funded by their individual booster clubs…

  3. Thank you Thea for helping to bring these issues out. As a graduate of the MVRHS many years ago I know that the arts have never been considered as important as sports at the school. It sounds like things have just gotten worse.

  4. Again, the school’s HVAC has been a mess for years. What’s changed? Forcing kids to sing wearing masks!!! How crazy is that?

    • Glad to see this Privately funded, fully vetted athletic field is still living rent free in your heads. Why don’t you all approach the school with a privately funded plan to fix the minnesinger issues? or would you rather use the hard work of many on the fields and try and direct their funds to the minnesingers instead? good grief

      • Here’s the thing…where is this mysterious money? Why has no one stepped forward to claim monetary support for this project? To use a quote from a sports movie, “show me the money”.

      • John– there are no “minnesinger issues” . The issue is an overheated building. It wouldn’t have mattered if the space was being used for debate practice for the “young republicans for a patriotic America”
        The point is that children collapsed because of the heat…… read the headline.
        I don’t care who they were — They were children that were literally being cooked by the irresponsibility and negligence of the “adults” who are tasked with providing a safe environment for them.

  5. Look– this was caused by one thing, and one thing only. — An overheated building.
    It seems everyone around here , except for a few idiots, talks about how to make the Vineyard “green” . Everybody is all touchy feely happy when the students “strike for the climate”.
    All touchy feely about banning plastic straws, one use plastic bottles, and the release of helium balloons– all things I agree with… And most towns have at least one touchy feely “green” electric car.
    But then– they vote to put tons of plastic over an expanse of grass to play football on, tear up a perfectly good sidewalk at the environmental cost of nearly 100 tons of carbon into the atmosphere, decide to put FSM knows how much more carbon into the atmosphere by adding about 10 ft. of sidewalk on circuit ave, build oversized fancy police stations and emergency facilities,,,,, AND then we find out that the Performing arts center at the high school is heated to a dangerous temperature because the heating system is even more out of whack than the people who are supposed to be managing it.
    Come on– I’m not buying it that the heating system is such that you can’t close a vent or 2 and prevent that building from getting to near 80 degrees. The ceiling must be near 100 degrees. Opening the doors and windows is not the “green” way .
    I am stunned…
    As Greta says, shut up with the BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, and think about what the hell is going on here.

  6. How much money will we keep dumping into this poorly designed school building to keep band-aiding together? The HVAC system is a symptom. I remember garbage cans in the hallways catching water pouring in from the leaking roof. I took an evening class there several years ago and the room was oppressively hot. The solution? Open the windows and let in the freezing cold air. I cannot believe this wasteful mess hasnt been fixed yet.

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