Monday, May 17, 2004

Summit celebrates comeback

Building collapsed: School didn't

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HYDE PARK - Each year, Summit Country Day School holds "Campus Day," with student artwork and musical performances.

The congregation stands for a closing prayer in the chapel at Summit Country Day School on Sunday.
(Melissa Heatherly photo)
Sunday's event drew about 500 people and began with a Mass in the newly renovated, historical Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.

But this year was different. The day held special meaning for this prestigious private Catholic school in light of January's partial collapse of Summit's main building. The construction accident occurred in the midst of an $11 million project for a new Lower School.

In what many still marvel at as a miracle, no one in the 1,100-student school was injured. The three stories that fell in the east wing toppled on a Sunday morning.

The accident, blamed on digging for the new building too close to the main one, turned into a positive experience after an outpour of community support, says Joseph T. Devlin, Summit's head of school.

"It has been a challenging year but, fortunately, everything came out," Devlin said. "It really, all in all, turned out to be an opportunity for us."

Xavier University offered space for high schoolers and Crossroads Community Church in Oakley, an interdenominational church, came through with classrooms for preschoolers and kindergartners.

Reconstruction is almost completed on the main building that collapsed in January.
(Melissa Heatherly photo)
First- through eighth-grade students returned to campus right away but attended classes in areas away from the main building. They ate lunch in their classrooms until the west portion of the main building, which holds the lunchroom, recently reopened.

This fall, all students will return to the main campus. The new Lower School is expected to open on schedule Sept. 7.

On June 6, Summit's seniors will graduate in the freshly painted and cleaned chapel.

Summit, Devlin points out, didn't skip a beat after the collapse.

"I expected the Summit community to be pretty remarkable and they were," he said. "But so many businesses in the community, in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, reached out to us.

"It was incredible. Many different faiths reached out to us, different schools, both private and public. It was heartening." On Sunday, parents and students said they were grateful to be back "home." They anticipate the new building opening and are impressed at how smoothly everything ran since the collapse.

"It's really drawn the community together," said Judy Schwarz, 41, of Hyde Park, as she viewed student artwork Sunday with her three children. "Out of adversity come good things."



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