‘Happy day’ as new Louisa school nears completion, three years after earthquake

Posted at 2:27 PM, May 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-27 15:25:30-04

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. - Ever since the August 2011 earthquake, the 550 students who make up Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Louisa County have gone to school in modular classrooms. Next year they will finally get inside their brand new school.

"I haven't concentrated so much on those road blocks that we hit along the way, I just kept looking to the future," Louisa County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit said. "That's how you make it through something like this, and we've done it--and done it well. It's a happy day for us."

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake damaged the old T.J. Elementary School and forced the hundreds of students and staff to look for an alternate place to learn. It was on the soccer field at Trevilians Elementary School, where portable units were turned into a temporary school for T.J. students.

"It's a wonderful example of how the community came together and tried to provide a sense of normalcy to the students," Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said.

Moran, Congressman Eric Cantor and Jeff Jones with FEMA were just some of those on hand Tuesday to get a look at where the students and staff have temporarily set up shop.

"It's really a testament to their resilience and fortitude," Moran said.

The leaders were also given a glimpse into what's next for the T.J. students, as the new elementary school is slated to open in August. On June 2, the mobile campus is set to be dismantled and the ground will once again become a soccer field.

"It's pretty unimaginable to see what it was now what it has become," Congressman Cantor said. "It is due to real leadership here in Louisa."

The portable complex being used by Louisa County High School, will remain in use until their building is complete in August 2015.