Su Valley School prepares to welcome back students

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2007

WASILLA - Less than three months after fire destroyed their school, students at Su Valley Junior-Senior High School were preparing to return Monday for classes in temporary facilities.

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Volunteers and school staff last week moved supplies into hastily anchored temporary classrooms. Instead of making lesson plans, teachers worked to create educational order.

A fire of unknown origin June 5 destroyed the school 14 miles south of Talkeetna. The 34-year-old building, valued at $13.23 million, was in the middle of a $5.5 million roof renovation.

Since the fire, students have pitched in to request money. Senior Grant Hicks wrote about 50 letters and raised $20,000 in pledges from companies and foundations, including $13,377 from a foundation run by the Fred Meyer stores. He wants to help cover costs that insurance will not, he said.

Hicks, a Willow resident who has attended the school since seventh grade, was in Maryland at an orientation at the U.S. Naval Academy when the school burned. His father is Su Valley Parent Teacher Student Association President Steve Hicks.

New teachers on Wednesday got their first looks inside portable classrooms borrowed from all over the district or moved from the old campus. Principal Matt Clark wanted to make the first work day on campus memorable for staff but ran into a problem.

"I show up yesterday ready for the first day for teachers. I'm going to have a pancake breakfast for them. No water," Clark said. A 5-gallon jug that survived the fire was filled to help make the pancakes.

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