School destroyed by fire rebuilt, ready to welcome students back

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GRANTSVILLE - A fire heavily damaged the old Grantsville Elementary School in July 2009, but two years later a new and improved school is set to open. Teachers and administrators know there is a lot of work to do before Aug. 23, when school starts, but they are excited.

The new Grantsville Elementary School at 175 W. Main Street will be state-of-the-art, with touch-screen whiteboards and more computer labs than before. Teachers say it means more opportunities. But for many, it's still hard to forget the old school that served so many generations.

The school as it looked after the 2009 fire.
The school as it looked after the 2009 fire.

The old Grantsville Elementary was heavily damaged by fire in July 13, 2009. What was left standing had to be torn down because of smoke damage.

While the new school looks great on the outside, there is lot that needs to be finished inside, like painting the gym floor, putting books on shelves in the library, setting up the computers in the computer lab, and putting together the playground equipment. But custodians, contractors, and teachers are working hard to make sure they are ready for the first day for the first day of school.

School principal Jeff Hamm said the fire was traumatic for a lot of people "because you're talking about people who have attended school here in 1929 and parts of that building had stood that whole time."

But not everything was lost in that fire. Hamm said they were able to save the bleachers from the old school which had been put in shortly before the fire.

Veteran teacher Linda Christiansen likes the new school, but memories of the old keep rushing back. She grew up here, and so did her family. "When I first came to Grantsville to teach, I had a small baby, and then my other children grew up in the halls, and in my classroom," she said.

But with a new building comes new opportunities. As the close to 800 students come back, Hamm said these halls will come alive again.

"The one missing ingredient is kids, because they're what makes all this stuff real," he said. And so, I'm really looking forward to having kids back in the building."

Still for people who grew up here that old building will be hard to forget. "It was always there," explained Christiansen. "It was just always a part of the community."

The new Grantsville Elementary will officially reopen at a ribbon-cutting celebration next Thursday. And class will be in session on Aug. 23.



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