Photo from Louisa County High School surveillance camera captured during the earthquake.
One year ago, the ground shook and changed Louisa County schools forever. Now the school division is remembering the earthquake that struck on August 23, 2011 and reflecting on the progress made since then.
The 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the afternoon, when school was in session. During the quake, and in the hours following, students were understandably shaken.
4th grade teacher Tonisha Short said, "While they are sitting on the ground, the ground is rumbling underneath them. And the only thing they were asking me, in addition to ‘Where's my sister?', ‘Where's my mom?', ‘Is my mom OK?' was ‘Is the ground going to keep shaking?' It hurt me to know that I didn't have an answer."
The rumbling rendered both Louisa County High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School useless. In all, Louisa County school buildings had a total of $61 million in damages.
Thursday Louisa County schools marked the quake by giving a tour of the temporary facilities and the elementary school, followed by an earthquake drill for all schools. The high school has invested in 22 trailers that house classrooms, administrative offices, and even a cafeteria. Principal Tom Smith says things are starting to get back to normal.
"We're sort of back to what we normally do. They've started demolition on the building, the high school building, hopefully in a couple of years, two or three years we'll be in a real regular building at this point," he said.
Plans to build a new high school and elementary school are moving forward; both will be built on the sites of the existing schools.
The elementary school will be nearly identical to the recently built Moss - Nuckols Elementary. Since there is already a design in place for the elementary school, the goal is for elementary students to be in their new school at the start of the 2014 school year.
The high school will be an entirely new design.
Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit stated, "What we are hoping to do is borrow from the best new high schools, fit within those constraints and be able to offer our students a high school that is going to serve them well into the future."
The high school still needs to be designed so it is anticipated it will take six months to a year longer to get it up and running.