NEW ORLEANS — Drinking fountains at the Homer Plessy Community School in New Orleans were covered in plastic Monday to keep students from drinking the water.

This comes after a seventh grader's class project turned up traces of lead in the water at the school. 

Berr Voss-Potts, 13, tested the water with an off-the-shelf test kit.

"I thought it would be cool to test the water because it's an old building," Voss-Potts said.     

The test came back positive.

"There might be a dangerous amount of lead in the water," Voss-Potts said. "We've been here for two years. It like kind of surprising that we're just finding out about it."

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Plessy moved into the old McDonogh 15 school building in the French Quarter two years ago. The school was built in 1932. 

Voss-Potts conducted the test as part of a student NPR podcast challenge.

Jon Voss said he's proud of his son and hopes other students follow his lead.

"Hopefully, we'll see middle schoolers and high schoolers doing these tests around the entire district," Voss said. "Let's see what's out there."

Voss-Potts' class project had the backing of his principal Meghan Raychaudhuri.

"The test that was conducted was not scientifically conclusive or in line with scientific guidelines, but it did show the possible contamination of lead and/or pesticides and recommended additional testing," Raychaudhuri said. "We're really excited that Berr picked a topic that was not just important to our school, but important to the city."

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Out of an abundance of caution, the Orleans Parish School District is taking quick action. There are now plans to install water filters here at Plessy. Until that happens, water fountains at the school will remain offline. 

There is a mural at the top of the steps at Plessy that says "Our positive energy empowers us to be the change we wish to see in the world."

Voss-Potts has already inspired change with his lead test.

"Lead is more dangerous to kids than adults, so even at a young age, it could kill you," Voss-Potts said.

In response to the discovery, the Orleans Parish School Board released the following this statement: 

"Due to low water pressure in the building, we were unable to install water filtration systems this morning at Plessy School as planned. However, OPSB delivered more than 2,000 water bottles at the school today and will continue to make sure students have access to drinkable water as we work to install those water filtration systems as a precaution. We've placed an emergency order for booster pumps which are needed in order to fully install filtration systems in school buildings with low water pressure." 

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