Louisa set to demolish two historic schools

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) -- A new era in Louisa: two historic schools are set to be demolished after both schools sustained massive damage from that August earthquake.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary and Louisa County High School will both be rebuilt.

No doubt, this is a tough decision and one that may not be the most popular among some people. But, it's a decision that needed to be made after FEMA pumped in millions of dollars to replace the two schools, not to repair them.

The images are iconic from the August, 5.8 magnitude quake that rocked Louisa High School to the core. School Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit was inside the school, directing students to safety.

Now, she is leading the district as it gets ready to tear down the high school that she graduated from, along with Thomas Jefferson Elementary.

There's just too much damage inside to keep on using the two schools.

"I'm taking a deep breath because we are looking at history here. We are looking at individuals that I knew," said Dr. Pettit.

Thomas Jefferson used to be AG Richardson, the segregated African American High School.

Dr. Pettit showed up with the school's first ever yearbook in 1954, chock full of history. "That was their high school and I'm saddened that the building is going to go away."

The district got more than $22 million dollars from FEMA to replace the two schools. Demolition is expected to happen within the next two months.

Right now, the school district is looking at two things. First, how to use some of the old school buildings in the new construction and also getting memorabilia for people to have for years to come.

"There are brass plaques in those buildings. We'll certainly save those. Staff have asked if they can have a brick," said Dr. Pettit.

Construction on both schools could begin by this fall. The new TJ could be ready by 2014. The new Louisa High, a year later.

"It will be a new era. We will recover. We will rebuild. And we will be better than ever," added a determined Dr. Pettit.

This will all become official at the school board meeting on Tuesday. That's when the school board is expected to approve this plan.

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