Jul 19, 2012 7:26 PM by Andy Koen

Schools offer stability, reassurance after disaster

With a disaster as severe as the Waldo Canyon Fire, it sometimes takes something familiar, like the neighborhood school, to help process all that has happened. Dr. Nicholas Gledich, Superintendent of School District 11 says there are 92 children and as many as 16 employees who are returning to school this year without a home.

"That's a worry, that's an impact," Gledich said.

As the evacuations were underway on June 26, Gledich asked law enforcement officers to remove all student files from Chipeta and other nearby schools that might be affected by the fire. He says he's glad he did.

"For many of our families now, as a reality, we may be the only hold of a birth certificate, and we wanted to make sure that we had those records well protected," he said.

In addition to helping replace critical documents, the schools serve a larger, unspoken role in helping the community cope, particularly for students. Eddie Hurt has children in the 2nd and 4th grades at Chipeta. Though their home was spared, he says his kids are eager to get back to school.

"Being able to go back to school before school opens will give them a chance to go around and make sure everything is still how it was, it feels safe still and it's going to be a fun time," he said.

Hurt is the chairman of the Chipeta School Accountability Committee. His group, the school PTA and others are holding a special get together on July 25 for that very purpose. The gathering isn't limited to students and their parents, but is open to everyone in Mountain Shadows.

Gledich says that's because the school touches more lives than just the students and teachers.

"We think it's important for kids to see each other and for kids to be with their friends, but even moms and dads to be with each other as well."

The first day of school for all D-11 students is August 20. There will be extra counselors on hand at Chipeta and Trailblazer Elementary, Holmes Middle and Coronado High School for the first two weeks of class.


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