Several classrooms are closed at Anamosa’s West Middle School after a ceiling crashed to the floor in one of the rooms on Monday. It was the first day back at school after winter break. Anamosa sixth grader Kayla Theilen was in the classroom and says she and others heard strange noises coming from the ceiling.
Teacher Jeff Vaughn asked his students to move to the other side of the room. “It started cracking…so he told us all to move over. One minute after we all moved over, it had fallen, so we all ran out of the room,” Theilen told KCRG-TV. Around 18 students and two teachers were in the room at the time. One-third of the ceiling and some fluorescent lights crashed on top of desks.
“We were all screaming,” Theilen said. “Some of us were shaking and crying. It took us two hours to stop shaking.” No one was seriously hurt, though some students did get a few bumps and bruises. The Anamosa school is more than 100 years old. Last year, voters rejected a plan to replace the aging building with a new 16 million dollar middle school. Superintendent Dale Monroe says voters could be asked to reconsider the project in April.
“There’s a reality that all of us are facing right now. We do have an old building that has some structural issues to it,” Monroe said. Structural engineer Dennis Waugh inspected the building after the ceiling fell to the ground. “(The building) is still structurally adequate in the short term, but more and more problems are going to show up. It’s about time to consider a replacement,” Waugh said. Plans are being made to repair the classroom, but for now, it remains closed – along with rooms directly above and below it, just as a precaution.
By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids