A school that collapsed under the weight of snow last year finally reopened Monday morning.
On Feb. 6, a winter storm dropped so much snow on St. John's School in Hollywood, Md., that the weight crushed the roof of the building, which was built in 1924.
“It was kind of sad because you don’t know if you’ll be back in your school you’ve grown up in,” said eighth-grader LeAnne Hudson. “I’ve been here since kindergarten. It’s kind of heartbreaking when you hear that your school collapsed.”
Luckily, it happened on a Saturday when no one was inside, but the collapse caused millions of dollars in damages to two floors of the school. For the remainder of 2010, the K-8 students were taken in by another school 30 minutes away.
“Somehow this seems like a sign from God,” said Father Ray Schmidt
, of St. John’s Parish. “I was saying to God in my prayer there was no way I could get this building up to 2010 building code, no way I could ever get this school modernized. Somehow, God maybe speaks through this kind of collapse and rebuild.”
After receiving $2.5 million in insurance money and another $500,000 in donations, the school was rebuilt better than ever. Every classroom now has a state-of-the-art blackboard and energy-efficient windows. The youngest students can enjoy a new cubby area.
“It looks amazing,” said eighth-grader Victoria Murray Monday morning. “It’s hard to explain because I didn’t know our school would look this cool.”
“It’s really awesome to think that all of this was possible and that it was finished so quickly,” said eighth-grader Mina Fahmi
The school said the recovery process hasn’t been easy. Over the course of the renovation school enrollment dropped from 180 students to about 150 kids this year.
To mark a new beginning, Cardinal Donald Wuerl
will go to the school for Sunday Mass on Feb. 6. He will bless the new building just one year after the collapse.
Published at 8:14 PM EDT on Jan 3, 2011