Education

Eagle River Elementary reopens to students for the first time since 2018

After more than two years and millions of dollars in repairs, Eagle River Elementary School is welcoming students back into its classrooms.

The elementary school, along with Eagle River’s Gruening Middle School, was significantly damaged in the 7.1 earthquake that rocked Southcentral Alaska in November 2018. Both have been closed ever since due to the extent of the damage.

Eagle River Elementary held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday evening to celebrate its reopening, the day before most Anchorage School District classes begin.

Eagle River Elementary Principal Dawn Campbell said around 300 students are enrolled for the fall, and teachers are eager to have kids back in the building.

“(Teachers) are in daily and working really hard, and they just want this to be a really good, fresh start for people,” Campbell said.

The elementary school’s direct earthquake repair costs totaled around $2.5 million, plus an additional $7.5 million in earthquake mitigation, roof replacement, deferred maintenance, code, security and educational program improvements, Tom Fenoseff, the district’s senior director of planning and construction, said in an email.

Students from the elementary school had been redistributed to surrounding schools in Eagle River over the last several years, Fenoseff said

“When students and staff walk through the doors on Tuesday, the layout will be familiar, but it is going to feel like a new school,” Fenoseff said.

Gruening is also bringing students back this month — its grand opening will be Sept. 30, according to Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for the school district.

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