Ss. Peter and Paul School in Alton suffered structural damage during the massive rainfall that swept through the Midwest in the days after Christmas.
More than 10 inches fell in Greater Alton, causing the ground to erode under the foundation at the school, shifting the building and making it unsafe for students to finish the school term. Thanks to quick responses from the Alton School District, the city of Alton as well as parents and parishioners at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, students were able to relocate to the former Mark Twain School on Milton Road.
Fifth- to eighth-grade students were given an assignment during a unit on personal narratives to write an essay about their experience, the relocation and the change everyone endured. Four essays were selected to be published.
Our school closing down?
By Carmen Kline
While I was on Christmas break, I got a text from one of my friends. She asked me if I had heard what happened to the school. At the time, I hadn’t and I got very worried. I checked FastDirect and read the message that Mr. Cavanaugh had sent. The message said that there were many cracks in the walls and damage in the floor of our school. I then went downstairs to tell my parents. I knew that our school already didn’t have very much money, so I was scared that we wouldn’t be able to relocate, and I would have to go to another school. I definitely would not want that to happen because I love our school, and I am looking forward to graduating from there next year.
There was later a meeting for the parents where they were informed about everything that was going on. Every day following the meeting, I checked FastDirect to see if there were any updates. One message said that we would be relocating to Mark Twain. As I read that, I became hopeful that our school was going to be able to recover.
The first day back, I was excited to see what it would be like at the new building. There were a lot more rooms, so we were able to use one of them for a science lab and one of them for a Spanish room, which was originally held in the cafeteria. Also, at Ss. Peter and Paul the gym and cafeteria were in a separate building. At Mark Twain, they are not, so we don’t have to leave the building. Also, Ss. Peter and Paul was two stories, so we had to walk up and down a lot of stairs. Luckily, Mark Twain is only one story. The Mark Twain building is good for now, but I am happy to be going back to our original building at the start of next year.
One of our first weeks back was Catholic Schools Week. Every year, we have a different theme for the week. Originally, the theme was supposed to be saints; however, because of the move to Mark Twain, we changed the theme to “our favorite things.” During that week, we did many fun things. On Monday, a magician came to perform. On Tuesday, we had a dodgeball tournament. On Wednesday, a band came to perform. On Thursday, we went bowling, and on Friday, we had Grandparents’ Day, in which our grandparents got to spend the day with us. Despite everything, our school has been through in the past month, we were still able to have a great Catholic Schools Week. In my opinion, it was the best one yet!
At the Ss. Peter and Paul building, we would attend church every Friday as a school. At Mark Twain we do the same, but since we don’t have a church, Mass is held in the gym. It’s a little different, but it works.
Everyone has been very helpful in the process of relocating to Mark Twain. There has been several donations and St. Ambrose provided lunch for us. I am very happy that everything has been going smoothly. Our school is like a big community. We all stick together, no matter what. I am lucky to have everyone from Ss. Peter and Paul in my life. All the teachers, staff and volunteers are amazing. They care for all the students and make us feel safe and comfortable. Overall, I think Ss. Peter and Paul is a great place to be, no matter how big we are.
About Carmen Kline
Carmen Kline is a seventh-grade student in Katie Lyons’ class at Ss. Peter and Paul School and the daughter of Brad and Julie Kline of Godfrey. As Carmen learned of the damage to her school, her immediate concern was for her friends and if they would remain together at the same place.
“I was kind of nervous about changing school buildings because it was so different,” Kline said. “I was worried that some of my classmates and friends would leave and go to a different school since we didn’t know what was going to happen at first. I wanted us all to stay together. I do like it here now; there are no stairs and everything is all in one building.”
Ss. Peter and Paul’s temporary home
By Grace Schulz
It was five days after Christmas, December 30, 2015. I had just received a text from my classmate, Isabel Borman, saying that my school, Ss. Peter and Paul, was too dangerous to enter. There were huge cracks in the foundation of the school. All Christmas break I had been dreading going back to school, but now I literally couldn’t. Would I go to a different school? I didn’t know what to think! Both of my sisters have graduated from Ss. Peter and Paul. What if I was the only one to not graduate? I’ve gone to Ss. Peter and Paul since kindergarten; I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.
I immediately told my parents, and they couldn’t believe it either. My parents were both busy, but when they heard what I said, they surprisingly looked up. My sister was also in the room, and was just as star-struck as my parents.
A week passed, and I still wasn’t at school. I was informed that my principal, Mr. Cavanaugh, and some teachers were looking at two possible homes for Ss. Peter and Paul. The choices were Catholic Children’s Home in Alton or Mark Twain School also in Alton. They thoroughly looked at both schools and decided that Mark Twain would be a much better fit. The Catholic Children’s Home was a bad fit because students had to be escorted to the bathroom and such places. However, Mark Twain was perfect. Everyone was on the same floor, and there were a tremendously large amount of classrooms.
Although it was quite dirty, since no one had used it for over 18 months. But it was no problem. We hired people to clean it and had Hornsey Moving help us with the move. I was very surprised that the staff moved into Mark Twain so quickly and efficiently.
On January 8, I came to Mark Twain and saw my new school for the very first time. I thought I would look much different than what I saw that day. I was expecting a cool and modern school, but this school is quite old.
About Grace Schulz
Grace Schulz is an eighth-grade student in Katie Lyons’ class at Ss. Peter and Paul School and the daughter of Jill and Ned Schulz of Godfrey. As the only eighth-grade student selected as an essay winner, Grace had her concerns about not being able to graduate from the only school she’s ever known. Thanks to gracious members of the community, Grace can follow in the footsteps of her sisters and graduate from Ss. Peter and Paul School.
“I was really kind of sad when I found out that we couldn’t finish the year in the school building I’ve always known,” Schulz said. “I think what has happened has really brought us closer as a school and as classmates. It made us appreciate what have and we know that we can rely on each other if we ever need help. I really want to thank everyone for what they’ve done for us. I hope that if we are ever in a position to help others that we would do the same thing for them.”