Hancock community reaches out to students

Barkell children having ‘adventure’ while school’s collapsed roof is repaired

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Students and teachers have made the transition from regular school classrooms to the feeling of open classrooms at the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church on Elevation Street, which offered its facilities to the Barkell Elementary School while repairs are being made after a partial roof collapse on March 14.

HANCOCK — Repairs at Barkell Elementary School are progressing, and principal Dan Vaara said he hopes the school will be ready when the students return from spring break on April 1.

“I know they’ve got contractors in there, and I know they’re working hard to get everything ready to go after break,” said Vaara, “and we have every reason to believe that we’ll be back in there after break.”

The Daily Mining Gazette attempted to get an update on repairs from OHM Project Manager Louis Meyette, but he refused to be interviewed.

“You don’t want to talk to me,” Meyette said. “You want to talk to someone from the school. You don’t want to talk to me.”

Last week Meyette reported to the Hancock Schools District Board that defective trusses appeared to be the cause of the partial roof collapse on March 14.

Vaara said he is grateful to the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, which offered its building while the repairs to the school are being made.

He said he is also grateful to the Church of the Resurrection for offering classrooms, and middle and high school principal Ezekiel Ohan, who Vaara said was gracious in making classrooms at that school available and accommodating on such short notice.

Vaara said the transition has been better than he could have hoped.

“The students are loving it,” he said. “So many parents email me that their kids are coming home, they’re loving it. They can’t wait to come back the next day.”

While the kids are having fun and seeing the week as an adventure, Vaara said that all the same subject lessons are still going as normal.

“Teachers have been great, the kids have been great,” said Vaara. “They did a great job to get everything established. The parents have been patient and gracious. I have had literally dozens of emails thanking for all the hard work that everybody’s putting in, all the help, and everybody’s reaching out, I mean it’s been absolutely unbelievable.”

The teachers and staff have worked hard to make the situation as seamless as possible, moving teaching materials, supplies, and equipment from the school to the church and the rooms at the middle and high school, literally overnight, Vaara said, to make everything ready for the students.

“The support has just been amazing,” Vaara said. “Everyone has been so supportive and patient. The community really came together for us.”