St. Kevin School, which was forced to close after a burst heating pipe filled the building with steam and water cascading from a second-floor restroom during the Thanksgiving Day weekend, is buzzing again – only now with workmen in place of students.
A crew from Pariseault Builders fished wires through the walls, replaced wallboards and installed new suspended ceilings on the first floor of the school Monday as part of a contract to address the water damage.
They weren’t alone in the school. In the school library, Joseph Luszcz and Cody DiLibero broke down scores of cardboard boxes that would have otherwise been discarded. Luszcz, who runs the annual St. Kevin Christmas Bazaar at Hendricken High School, plans to store them in the rectory garage until they’ll be put to use this fall as part of the bazaar effort.
Father Robert Marciano is hopeful the work will be completed – and the school moved back to the building – soon after February vacation. He put the cost of school cleaning and repairs in the range of $500,000.
But all the work at St. Kevin’s doesn’t mean an extended vacation for 247 students. The students from pre-K through grade 8 got a mini pre-Christmas break in the wake of the burst pipe. Initially, it was thought that after being aired out and with the replacement of sodden carpets and water-stained ceiling tiles, the school could reopen within two weeks. That was wishful thinking.
The Warwick School Department and Mayor Joseph Solomon stepped up with a solution. Randall Holden School in Hoxsie, which closed in June as part of school consolidation, was reopened in a matter of days as school and city personnel cleaned the building, moved desks and chairs that had been stored in several classrooms and helped St. Kevin teachers and administrators move records from St. Kevin. Heating, electrical and security systems were checked out. On Dec. 5, the school was ready, and that morning students filled the all-purpose room, gathering to hear from Solomon and Marciano. After prayers, it was back to the books.
Marciano said Wednesday he is “eternally grateful” to the mayor, Kevin Oliver of the School Department, Mathew Solitro of the Department of Public Works and all who worked to ensure a place for the school.
“What’s best for the children is their whole concern,” he said. He named Joseph Walsh of Catholic Mutual, which insures the school, as being there “every step of the way” as the church dealt with the disaster.
As part of Catholic School Week celebrations, Wednesday was Color Day. Depending on their grade, students were dressed in purple, yellow, green and more colors. Surprisingly, no one other than some administrators appeared to be wearing Patriots attire. But that promises to change today, as it is “Soup for Super Bowl,” when the numeral 12 will surely be plentiful and canned food donations are collected.
Principal David Irving said the transition to Randall Holden went smoother than he imagined. He noted instruction hasn’t missed a beat with even the school’s computer lab fully up and running.
He and his colleagues look forward to returning to St. Kevin. They’d just like to bring the Randall Holden gym with them when that happens.