Posted 3/06/13 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Just like the 12 smooth stones stood as a reminder of God’s bringing the Israelites across the Jordan River, the newly-rebuilt Johnson Corners Christian Academy will serve as a testament to the lives that were saved through seemingly inescapable circumstances.
On Sept. 17, 2012, just a month into the school year, an accident caused a chain-reaction of events that ended with the front of a semi and the whole of another vehicle resting in the interior multi-purpose room of Johnson Corners Christian Academy. It was where 20 students and roughly eight staff were supposed to be sitting down for lunch. But, fortunately, they weren’t.
Miraculously, as far as the Academy is concerned, only a few students received injuries. And the building, though nearly destroyed, was salvageable. A fact that, today, causes those involved and their loved ones to simply praise God and give him thanks.
“We are still celebrating the fact that none of the staff, students or the semi driver were killed in the accident, and that the building was able to be rebuilt,” states School Administrator Adrian Timmons.
Since the accident, much has taken place to rebuild the school facility as well as increase the students’ confidence in that new facility.
“The students still struggle, at times,” states Timmons. “Even now, when they hear a semi horn or jay brakes, it startles them.”
But a large metal barrier, built shortly after the crash, has helped calm those reactions.
According to Timmons, this barrier was not in the Academy’s rebuilding plans and it was not paid for by the Academy. In fact, the school had nothing to do with its installation. But rather four local companies, North Star, ONEOK, Arrow Midstream and Parnell Constsruction, donated the barrier, along with the supplies and labor with which it was built.
“They wanted to help provide our students with a sense of security, and it has helped tremendously,” states Timmons. “Even though we explain to them that the likelihood of a similar accident occurring is almost impossible, they see that and they feel safer.”
The barrier, in combination with the North Dakota Department of Transportation having lowered the speed limit around the school from 65 mph to 50 mph, has helped make the kids feel safer.
With regard to rebuilding the facility, Timmons states it has been a process.
Immediately following the accident, a group that consisted of parents, staff, church and community members came together to brace the building’s structure, in order to keep it from collapsing and to prepare it for reconstruction.
Once stable, more groups were able to come in and out during the week and help set up temporary classrooms. The students were also subject to more moving and temporary set-ups while the construction was going on.
“The kids have been incredibly patient through this entire process,” states Timmons. “There has been stuff constantly in the way, and construction noises day in and day out. They have been moved around, and about the time they get situated, we move them again. They haven’t had anything consistent, so they are really happy to be back in classrooms.”
On March 10, from 2 to 4 p.m., to commemorate the rebuilt facility, Johnson Corners Christian Academy is hosting an Open House that everyone in the community is invited to. Though not completely finished, the Open House will feature the Academy’s facility, as well as some of its updates and changes.
“One thing we are truly thankful for is that the accident gave us the opportunity to upgrade and bring some things up to code,” states Timmons. “Our bathrooms are now handicapped accessible and we have moved the administrator’s office into one of the classroom spaces to create a larger lobby that can now take on a more multi-purpose room function.”
In addition, the accident gave the Academy the chance to properly wire their classrooms for internet and TV.
“We want to extend another thanks to the first responders and all the people who helped stabilize the building so it could be rebuilt. We also want to thank those who helped throughout every step of the construction process,” states Timmons. “This process would have been very difficult without everyone stepping in to help.”