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Louisa Quake: One Year Later - Louisa schools bounce back

Published: Aug. 23, 2012 at 9:47 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:00 PM EDT
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LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - Two schools in Louisa had to be condemned and closed after last August's earthquake hit. The high school and Thomas Jefferson Elementary were among the hardest hit buildings. This year students are going to school in trailers.

Even though classes have been in session for about a week, Thursday was probably one of the hardest days the kids will have all year. It was a day to say thank you and reflect.

One year ago, at exactly 1:51 p.m., Louisa students hid under desks, evacuated and trembled out of fear from the shaking of the ground below them.

"The roof just started coming down, just like bits of the ceiling," recalled senior Katie Barnes.

From the mouths of babes came a simple, but universal description of that moment: "I was really, really scared," third grader Jakayla Anderson said. "I was thinking it would bring down the whole entire world."

Thursday, around the same time, almost the same thing happened. This time it was a drill.

Before that day last year, Louisa schools had never done an earthquake drill. Now, they are common and part of the routine.

"When I think about it, I can't believe it's been a whole year," Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit exclaimed.

A lot has changed in that year. Students go to classes in pods, instead of their historic high school

"I'm upset I'm not in there but we're going to make the best of it," Barnes said.

"Making the best of it" has become the Louisa way. That attitude was apparent on a tour of the high school.

"One thing we've tried to do throughout the campus is to make sure we keep our technology up so we've got five computer labs," Principal Tom Smith explained.

It is also seen at the space shared between Trevilians and Thomas Jefferson Elementary students.

"We have to just walk everywhere," Anderson told us.

Thursday's anniversary is bittersweet, as this community moves forward from a day it won't soon forget.

"We've learned a lot about ourselves," Dr. Pettit recalled. "I've learned a lot about the goodness of people and the generosity of people and that's overwhelming."

Demolition at the high school has started. Thomas Jefferson has already been torn down. Crews are scheduled to break ground on the new school there next month.

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