DANVILLE — For some students and faculty in Montour County, “back to school” means going back to the newly renovated Danville Middle School. The school was damaged in the flood of 2011 and was closed until earlier this week.
“There was a buzz, there was excitement. The teachers were here all week getting their classrooms ready, making the kids feel welcome,” Principal Charles Smargiassi said.
Principal Smargiassi says there is even more excitement this year, because Danville Middle School opened for the first time in almost two years.
The middle school on Route 11 was damaged in the flood of 2011, and closed 11 days into the school year. Smargiassi says everything inside had to be replaced. More than 550 students in grades six through eight attended class in other buildings.
To make sure that doesn’t happen again, Danville Middle School was made flood-proof. Everything inside the school is either plastic or cement and all of the electric outlets are at least four feet off the ground.
“All the surfaces, floors and walls and lockers can all be cleaned. If we do have a flood again in the future, this building will come back in a lot less time,” Smargiassi said.
The school has a brand new auditorium and gymnasium. Most of the $12 million project was paid for by the federal government.
Outside the school, traffic is slow-moving because flood protection efforts are in the works. Danville officials say crews are installing flood gates on both sides of Route 11.
“If we do get a flood again, the flood gates will provide better protection for us than what we had with the sandbags the last time,” Smargiassi said.
Emma Lehr and her classmates were here for less than two weeks before the flood. She is happy to be back at the school.
“I really enjoy it. Everything looks really good. I like the new technology, everything is pretty updated and everything is new,” Lehr said.
School officials say there will be a ribbon cutting at the school next month.