Minnechaug lights will not shut off, featured on SNL Weekend Update

The lights have been on non-stop for over a year, and school officials said that the solution is not as simple as it may appear.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST
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WILBRHAM, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - One local high school is getting national attention after it was featured on this past weekend’s rendition of Weekend Update during Saturday Night Live. Why? Because, the lights at Minnechaug High School won’t shut off.

In fact, the lights have been on non-stop for over a year, and school officials said that the solution is not as simple as it may appear. All of this led to the joke on Saturday Night Live over the weekend.

Outside of Minnechaug High School Monday night, you could see that the lights were still on, but we have been told that a solution is in the works.

“If there was a switch we could have flipped, obviously, we would have done that,” said Wilbraham Schools Superintendent John Provost.

He described the ongoing situation at Minnechaug High School to Western Mass News. The lights at the school cannot turn off. This has been costing taxpayers thousands of dollars a month and has captured the attention of national news outlets, even the comedy show Saturday Night Live.

This past weekend, comedian Colin Jost joked about the issue during his Weekend Update segment, saying, “The students are fine, but the classroom hamster has gone insane.”

“I am chagrined that our inability to solve the problem in a faster way has resulted in this type of notoriety for the district and for the community,” Provost said. “However, I am grateful for the attention that news media outlets have brought to this because I think it is helping us to achieve a solution in a much more timely way.”

He told us that the building was approved for occupancy, including a server that controlled the lights in 2012. In 2021, it was corrupted by malicious malware. Since then, they have been working to get it fixed.

“The district has been working on it since day one of the problem and has been very motivated to engage our vendor in an accelerated repair process,” Provost explained. “Part of the issue is, the parts can only come from one supplier, which was impacted by a year-long supply chain issue. We really had limited options for solving it any other way.”

He said that the repairs are now scheduled to happen next month and will come with a feature to prevent this from happening again.

“One of the requirements we had for a solution was a manual override which will allow us to prevent this problem in the future,” Provost said.

We were told that the repairs will be conducted over the February break.