After a seven-day unscheduled break in studies, it was back to the books and classrooms for 245 St. Kevin School students yesterday.
Only this time it was a new – and bigger – school.
“Don’t get too used to it,” Father Robert Marciano, pastor of St. Kevin, joked as uniformed students carrying backpacks filtered into the gym of Randall Holden School, one of two city schools that closed in June as a result of declining student enrollment.
A lot came together in the past week when it was learned that the damage caused by a burst heating pipe Nov. 24 at St. Kevin School would take far longer to repair than the one week initially estimated.
As students gathered in the Randall Holden gym, Father Marciano said a prayer and after brief remarks introduced Mayor Joseph Solomon as the man who made the move possible. Father Marciano noted that Solomon called him last Thursday, suggesting he and the school’s staff visit vacant city buildings as a possible temporary campus for St. Kevin.
Solomon told the students and faculty that it was the community coming together that made use of Randall Holden possible.
“It’s nice to see this building brought back to life,” he said.
And, indeed, not only was it a combined, but also a hasty effort that made it happen.
Without letting details of agreements bog down the process, the St. Kevin community, Warwick School Department and city moved ahead to bring back online a school that was slated to be moth balled until however the city would dispose of the property.
By Friday school department maintenance crews were testing the school’s heating, electrical, intercom and security systems. Desks and chairs stockpiled in several rooms were moved into classrooms, floors were cleaned and paper towel and hand sanitizer dispensers were mounted in restrooms.
“What a difference a week makes,” said Father Marciano, walking the corridors and stopping to talk with students and teachers.
The move from St. Kevin to Randall Holden was accomplished Monday with the help of 35 Warwick firefighters who loaded boxes on three moving trucks and then helped off load them when they arrived at Randall Holden. Father Marciano said that the Lamendola’s Astro of New England not only provided the trucks but also a crew of six to help make the move. He was also thankful for the work of Ron Rainone and his landscaping company that cleaned the schoolyard, mowing the grass, moved the outdoor tables from St. Kevin and mulched the playgrounds.
Students were excited by their new surroundings, and remarkably even about going back to school.
“It’s all on one level,” said 4th grader Kylie Pires. Her classmates nodded in agreement adding, “it’s got a nice big gym.”
As for the surprise vacation from class, 4th grader Lily Sheehan said she tired of the time off insisting that she actually asked her mother to supply her with some math problems to solve. She said her mother tested her on her multiplication tables.
St. Kevin Principal David Irving said it is too early to add up what this disruption is going to cost.
“We’re still waiting to hear from the contractors,” he said when asked what repairs to St. Kevin School might tally. He has no idea yet of what insurance will cover or what expenses would be incurred with use of Randall Holden.
There’s no knowing when St. Kevin School will be ready to reopen. Outside guesses offered by Irving are a month and a half, maybe longer.
Father Marciano, who was kidded for being a media hound with almost nightly coverage by Channels 10 and 12, sees opportunity to further get out the word on the work of the school. He noted that there could be a flurry of publicity over a shiny refurbished St. Kevin School.
Then again, Randall Holden has so much to offer.
The gym has become the place for morning prayer and announcements. The kitchen will be put in use today. Yesterday was a special pizza day, which was just fine with everyone.
View what Father Marciano and Mayor Solomon said to students on the Warwick Beacon website and on the Beacon Facebook page.