EDUCATION

Louisa schools still adjusting to 2011 earthquake damage

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As school started again today in Louisa County, the schools are definitely not back to normal after last year's East Coast earthquake, but they look a lot different.

D.C. earthquake 2011: Photos from the Washington region

D.C. earthquake 2011: Photos from the Washington region 12 Photos
D.C. earthquake 2011: Photos from the Washington region

Superintendent Deborah Petit says the August 23, 2011 earthquake did about $61 million in damage, but the community is determined to move forward.

On this first day of classes at Louisa County High School nearly 1,400 students are in an alphabet soup of mobile classrooms. And still remembering why they're going through this.

"Actually, while I was in my first period we started talking about the earthquake once again," says Zack Jackson, a senior. "Glass started falling, dust started flying. It was, it was crazy."

The 5.8 magnitude quake hit during school. There were no injuries, but the high school was condemned.

"The hope is to get a new school within three years," says Tom Smith, principal of Louisa High School. "Whether that's rebuilding or demolishing and rebuilding, that's the plan."

Meanwhile, they're making do, busing kids to local centers and businesses for some classes and sports practices.

P.E. is more ping-pong and aerobics. The ceiling's too low for much else.

"It's kind of made us closer because we've had to go through all of this together, but it's still hard," says Katie Giusto, a senior.

Country star Alan Jackson's May benefit concert raised $150,000 toward a new auditorium sound system.

But all six county public schools were damaged in the quake. Thomas Jefferson Elementary had to be demolished. It's gone.

Some of the kids now have an hour-long bus ride and then go to classes in trailers, in nearby Louisa.

And they now have regular earthquake drills:

'"We go under our desk, cover our heads and keep one hand on the desk," says Andrea Jovel, a fifth grader.

And until a new school's finished two years from now, this will have to do.

"I mean, even though this is trailers, it's still something that we can call our own," says Victoria Moore, a fifth grader.

The district says insurance, FEMA and the state will cover most, but not all, of the damage.

They're starting to design a new high school, but this year's freshmen could wind up spending their entire high school career in trailers.

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