By Katie Hammerer, The County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. After the major snowstorm that caused the roof of St. Johns Schools library to collapse last winter, the school is preparing to re-open in the New Year.
Jan. 3, is the date set for St. Johns School, located in Hollywood, to welcome back students displaced by the cave in. During this weeks Christmas break, students, staff and volunteers have been working to get the school set up for the students return.
Last winter, St. Johns 180 students helped pack up the schools desks, books and other salvaged items after the collapse, to begin moving to their temporary home at Holy Angels Sacred Heart Catholic School in Avenue, which had formally closed in 2009.
Moving into Holy Angels was much easier, everything basically went into storage. All we really had to think about was what we needed for a classroom, said Pat Suit, principal at St. Johns School.
The most optimistic projection on re-returning to the modernized school was set for September, however things did not move as quickly as hoped.
Opening half way through the year is delighting, Suit said.
Nearly 11 months after the devastation, teachers, parish members, students and volunteers connected to the St. Johns School can once again pack up their belongings to move back into the newly renovated St. Johns School.
Everything is so hectic and with Jan. 3 creeping closer, taking breaks is not a favorable option and thats why even corporate businesses in the area are offering to help; Chick-fil-a offered to bring lunch for the volunteers to the school on Wednesday.
The community has been wonderful, the contractors and sub-contractors have been fantastic Suit said.
Betty Ann Quade, the Advising Sub-Committee Chair said moving will continue throughout the students winter break in order to be ready for the highly anticipated opening.
The teachers and kids are very excited, Quade said.
The cost for the new facility was not cheap; at an estimated $500,000, the funding for this project was primarily donations from the community.
Laverne Schaefer, head of fundraising for St. Johns School said the aid to rebuild the recently demolished library, built in 1953, came from insurance placed on the building; whereas renovating the rest of the school, built in 1923, came from the St. Johns Capital Campaign.
The capital campaign goal is to raise $500,000 to fund the modernization of the building built in the 1920s, Schaefer said.
The official kick off date for fundraising was June 1, accepting pledges and donations, as well as a phone-a-thon that followed in August.
However fundraising did not commence until the recently built Monsignor Harris Centers fundraising project was completed.
Seeing the pictures from when the roof collapsed were heart wrenching, Schaefer said.People have been very generous. Generous could be an understatement; as of Dec. 17, the total amount of money pledged towards the fund was $456,639, 91 percent of the goal.
With the money donated, the newly modernized 1920s building now contains 14 classrooms equipped for kindergarten to eighth grade students as well as a new science lab; the new school is also able to hold a capacity of 250 students.
If the school hadnt of collapsed, we would have never received such wonderful funding and support from the community, Suit said.
I love it, I have been here for 25 years as principal and dealing with a 75 year old schools plumbing, heating, Suit said. its great to be able to start with everything new. Its truly amazing.
St. Johns School welcomes the community to view the new school on two different occasions in January. There is an open house set for Jan. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as guided tours made by appointment on Jan. 21.