Rockwood Preparatory Academy damaged from ice storm

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:36 PM PST
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GRESHAM Ore. (KPTV) - It’s been more than a week since the Christmas Eve ice storm blew through the Pacific Northwest, and faculty at Rockwood Preparatory Academy are trying to get their campus ready for their students after freezing temperatures burst pipes, flooding more than a dozen classrooms.

Third-grade teacher, Dane Dykeman took FOX 12 around the school to see the damage. Hallways and classrooms are still drying out, ceiling tiles are either warped or soaked in water on the ground and the paint on the walls shows evidence of damage from water falling from above.

“I think they will have to go into the walls to make sure there is no water damage there,” Dykeman said. “They’re re-sheet rocking everything and a lot of teachers will need new supplies, we might need to buy a new curriculum based on how much got destroyed.”

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The buildings at Rockwood Preparatory Academy are up to 100 years old. The damage occurred in portions of the campus that was built in the early 1940s. Dykeman said the ice storm knock the power out for the school and the 80-year-old boilers that keep the buildings heated. As a result, pipes froze, then burst, causing thousands of dollars in damage. He showed us one room that was used as an emotional resource center for students. A pencil holder about 6 inches deep was sitting on a counter still full of water. Dykeman said he and other staff members tried to save what they could.

“She’s basically working from the ground up in an extra area that we were able to make for her and the students,” Dykeman said.

All the damaged classrooms, support rooms, and administrative offices are being moved to areas of the school that were spared from being damaged. Only three teachers are able to stay in their classrooms. Over the last week, teachers and staff carved eight separate classrooms out of the gym. Dividers will go up to keep the classrooms separated.

“We don’t delay problem-solving, it’s in the moment, text chains, email chains just brainstorming and this is a solution we figured out on short notice and so we’re going to give it our best.”

It’s not a permanent solution, just a way to give stability to students. The school serves many students in low-income communities in need of stable environments.

“A kid cannot learn unless they feel safe, happy, and a part of something,” Dykeman said. “That social-emotional learning must come first.”

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As the school finds a way to get back on its feet, the hope is enough money can be raised to get repairs done before the end of the school year. Dane said the school’s insurance company will cover some of the damage, but at least $350,000 will have to come from out of pocket. Even though Rockwood Preparatory Academy works within the Reynolds School District, it’s considered a non-profit and can’t get emergency money from the district.

“After last year of coming back to in-person learning, it was a huge learning curve and we got through it and were super impressed by the kids and the staff and we came back this year ready to rock it,” Dykeman said. “Although this happened, I know for however long this takes, we’re going to give everything we have.”

If you’d like to donate to the school’s GoFundMe, you can click here.