Thursday, January 29, 2004

Summit pupils feel right at home in borrowed classrooms

By Denise Smith Amos
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OAKLEY - Ten days after his classroom at Summit Country Day School was buried in rubble, A.J. Chaney was seated in his temporary schoolroom at Crossroads Community Church on Wednesday morning.

The 5-year-old Montessori kindergartner first hugged his teacher, Karen Koch. Then he handed his mother his backpack and took a seat near his friends. That's how his mother, Daphne Chaney of Kennedy Heights, knew things would be all right.

"As soon as he saw his teacher and his friends, he was at home," she said. "I saw all the little faces. They never missed a beat. It was as if they'd always been there."

A.J. was one of more than 200 preschoolers and kindergartners from Summit who resumed school Wednesday - not in Summit's main building, but in borrowed quarters at Crossroads, a non-denominational Christian church.

Summit Country Day, a Catholic private school, closed its campus Jan. 18 after part of its Upper School collapsed. The building houses its high school, Montessori program, third grade and some school departments.

No one was injured.

Wednesday was the first day back to school for Summit's 1,100 students, who missed seven days because of the collapse.

The high school students spent Wednesday off campus on a field trip. Today and Friday, they will split their time between Summit and Xavier University while preparations wrap up on temporary classroom space at Xavier, said Jennifer Pierson, Summit's spokeswoman.

The Montessori classes had to move off campus, but Summit's third grade was put in six modular classrooms on campus.

Construction of the classrooms, which can take several weeks, was accomplished in less than four days. That's because dozens of workersbraved freezing temperatures over the weekend, said Dave Martina, a senior sales specialist with Satellite Shelters Inc. in West Chester, which made the units.

At Crossroads, Summit is leasing space until the end of the school year, said Phyllis Schueler, director of the Montessori program.

The church, founded in 1996, occupies what used to be a Home Quarters store. It draws 1,200 people for Sunday service and sports an auditorium and child-friendly classrooms.


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