'Burned, beaten and back in business."
This seems to be the St. Stanislaus Rockachaws' victory cry since the school was founded in 1854.|
In 1903, the private school, which now educates boys from not only the Gulf Coast, but from all over the United States and abroad, was destroyed in a fire.
Rebuilt, it was then devastated in 1969 by Camille, and now... Katrina wiped out the entire first floor of every building on campus, according to Michael Reso, director of development, and Richard Gleber, director of public relations.
Probably the most brutal attack was on the beautiful 1920s building that contained the library and the chapel where all of the Brothers of Sacred Heart of New Orleans took their final vows.
The entire second-floor library collapsed to the basement, but miraculously the third-floor chapel stayed intact, though damage was extensive.
"We parked cars around the perimeter of the main building to protect them from debris, but they knocked out walls, and we could hear them scraping the floor below our feet," said Brother Ronald Hingle, SC, school president.
The SBA estimated the damage to the campus at $19.3 million, but this didn't hinder administrators' determination to reopen and give students some feeling of normalcy.
"It was amazing that we were open just two months after Katrina," said Reso.
"Out of our student population, one-third lost everything and one-half were displaced, but they were excited about coming back to school," Gleber said.
In fact, the students were instrumental in a timely reopening, working with cleanup crews and clearing debris.
The Our Lady Academy girls' school next door was just as devastated, and it took no time for the Brothers of St. Stanislaus to open their doors to OLA students, faculty and administration and to combine classes.
St. Stanislaus is open, though lacking buildings and with mounting financial strain.
- PATRICIA "TSH" HANCOCK