Homestead welcomes Eagle River Elementary with open arms
On Monday morning, when most of the Anchorage School District was going back to school, preschool and elementary students from Eagle River Elementary were going to their newly assigned schools for the very first time.
"It's like the first day of school for them all over again," Homestead Elementary principal Dr. Jane Stuart said. "We had to clear eight classrooms in 24 hours. Our goal is to make their new classrooms as similar to the ones they had."
Eagle River Elementary was deemed structurally unsafe by the Anchorage School District shortly after the November 30 earthquake. Because of that, the students needed a new place to call home.
Preschoolers will now go to Ravenwood, kindergarten through third grade are now going to Homestead and the fourth through six graders along with optional program are rerouted to Birchwood.
"It's a big day not only for the students and our students but the parents as well," Dr. Stuart said. "We've had so many teachers, principals and volunteers from other schools come help us. We're [trying] to make it as comfortable and seamless as we can. It's also going to be a confusing day for a lot of parents. Some have never been here before."
The gymnasium at Homestead is still closed off and unusable for now, but the building is secure and received no water damage.
"I can't thank anyone enough," Eagle River Elementary first grade teacher Deni McCloud said. "I'm running on fumes. I may need to put on my superman cape over there if I get too emotional. I'm so excited to see my kiddos. I think the room turned out well and I was able to keep a lot of the kids items. I also have little stuffed animals for them or buddies. Little kids need something like that."
The current situation will remain the same for the remainder of the school year and possibly longer. There is no time table as to how long Eagle River Elementary will stay closed or if it will ever open again.
"This school has welcomed us with open arms," McCloud said. "I hope our kids feel that and I am pretty sure they will."
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