Excited and leery, ASD students return to class
On Monday, most students across the Anchorage School District returned to school for the first time since the November 30 earthquake.
"[It's] just amazing that we got back this fast," Eagle River High School principal Tim Helvey said. "A lot of help from community, teachers, students, just an amazing effort."
Schools such as Eagle River High School, Bartlett High School, Dimond High School and Bear Valley Elementary, initially red tagged and deemed unsafe to enter a week ago, are now back to holding teachers, staff and students.
"We had a lot of water damage," Helvey said. "The school district has order 8,000 square feet of new carpet for us. I'm not sure if we'll need all of that or when it all will be replaced but that tells you how significant it was. We also had to have 12,000 square of ceiling tiles replaced. When I came in here last Monday for a walk through, all of the ceiling tiles were already replaced."
The school district and their contractors worked over the past nine plus days assessing, repairing and cleaning what they could in order to allow teachers and staff back in the buildings .
"Glass was cleaned up off the floors, ceiling tiles were replaced, everything on the walls was reattached," science teacher Mark Van Arsdale said. "There were painters in here, plumbers in here, they were repairing leaks in the ceiling, it was tremendous."
Most buildings in the district are structurally sound and just need some cosmetic work.
"Cracks in the walls will be replaced during the holiday break," Helvey said. "The important thing is we are up and running."
"It feels good to be back." JROTC parent volunteer Salina Brightbill said. "We didn't see too much damage in the coffee shop. Just four bottles of syrup and a snowflake decoration. The JROTC room was hit pretty hard though."
Inside the JROTC room, instructor Bill McNew was still assessing the damage.
"The trophies on the left side of the room were spared," McNew said. "The trophies to the right, most of them fell and are broken. There is a lot of history there."
As a retired Command Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, McNew knows what to do next.
"We'll move on," McNew said. "We'll try to fix what we can and what we can we'll replace with new stuff."
The only students not to start school on Monday were middle schoolers from Gruening Middle School in Eagle River. Gruening was deemed unsafe and students will start school at Chugiak High School on Tuesday, December 11th. All full time King Tech students will take courses online and return to King Tech on Wednesday, December 12th.
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