TILTONSVIILE-Students at Buckeye South Elementary returned to class in new surroundings after their school building was heavily damaged during a recent rainstorm.
About 215 pupils in grades PK-5 are temporarily attending the former St. Joseph Catholic School just a stone’s throw away on Mound Street in Tiltonsville while another 125 are either learning remotely or attending Buckeye Jr. High School in the sixth-grade class.
Buckeye South sustained water damage in late August after drainage upon the roof became clogged, sending water through all three floors and affecting nine classrooms. Principal Julie Packer said teachers preparing for the restart noticed the damage and thankfully no children were present at the time.
Officials have worked to clean and repair the site and have no definitive timeline to return, but hopes are to be back by January. She said tests have shown no asbestos or lead in the building but teachers were not yet permitted for safety reasons. However, everyone worked together to ensure classes would resume in another setting.
She noted that options to split students between Buckeye North in Brilliant and Buckeye West in Adena would lead to crowding and longer bus rides, and she was grateful to Father William Cross and St. Joseph Catholic Church for offering their space.
“We wouldn’t be here without the church. They just opened their arms and welcomed us,” Packer added. “We’re grateful for them.”
St. Joseph School operated as a high school through the Diocese of Steubenville for two decades until 1970 but reopened as St. Mary’s Primary School for grades 1-3 from the late 1970s to early 1980s. Buckeye Local Superintendent Kim Leonard said church leaders graciously opened the doors to accommodate South Elementary faculty, staff and students and she was very appreciative of the support.
“The people have taken great care of the church and we only had to make a few minor updates,” she said.
And the Panther pride couldn’t be stronger as teachers from Buckeye North and West Elementary Schools raised money or purchased items on their own to help South teachers in need, while the Buckeye Local Junior Panthers also contributed Amazon gift cards.
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