By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Students and parents waited in a line that wrapped around the side of the Danville Middle School to get a glimpse of the newly restored building.
The school held an open house and orientation from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and for many community members it was their first look around the building since it was closed due to flood damage following Tropical Storm Lee in Sept. of 2011.
It was a new experience for some of the teachers, as well.
“I was only here two weeks when it flooded,” said science teacher Donna Counterman, who had taught science at Danville High School for years before starting her position at Danville Middle School.
As a Danville local, she remembered seeing staff steer a boat up to the middle school in order to check on it.
After the flood, the staff and approximately 500 students from the school were relocated to spare class rooms in the Danville Primary School and the Danville Elementary School.
But the two-year wait was well worth it to Counterman.
“It’s a beautiful school, they did such a nice job,” said Counterman, in between rounds of greeting new students during the open house.
And the students seemed impressed with the results as well.
“I like it here better. … We have more space,” said incoming seventh-grader Mai Yoshimizu, 12, who attended sixth-grade at the Danville Primary School last year.
Seventh-grader Marissa Patynski, 12, likes that she’ll have a locker this year, as sixth-graders at DPS did not.
Katie Miller, 11, was trying out her locker alongside her dad, Daniel, during the open house. Katie is just entering the school for the first time as a sixth-grader. “It’s pretty cool, but kind of confusing to walk around,” she said.
“They did a pretty nice job so far,” said Daniel of the school.
“I just think it’s awesome,” said principal Charles Smargiassi. “Everyone seems amazed with the building.”
He credited the custodians and maintenance staff for working extra hard to get all the school’s furniture and supplies moved in.
“We’re just eager to get back,” Smargiassi said.
Assistant principal Ed Sanders also thanked the help given by staff, families, students and teachers in setting up the school. “There’s just so many people who just pitched in and helped out,” he said.
“It’s great to see parents and families and kids” back in the school, he said.
“It’s fantastic to be back,” science teacher Richard Smith said. “We’re in the center of the community and that’s where we like to be.”
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