Crater High School students Chase Sullivan, left, a sophomore, and junior Connor Lane look down the abandoned hallways of the school’s Renaissance Academy, which was damaged by a Feb. 11 water-line break. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell photos - Bob Pennell

'It's kind of surreal'

Students returning to Crater High School Tuesday said they were surprised at the amount of damage caused by a water main break that forced the school to close for a week.

"It's kind of surreal to see the school like this," said Chase Sullivan, a sophomore, as he looked down the empty hallways of Crater Renaissance Academy, where lockers have been emptied and layers of flooring ripped out because of water damage.

A main water line broke at the school in the early morning of Feb. 11, flooding the boiler room, sending 2 to 3 inches of water into the Renaissance Academy and canceling classes for all of last week.

"I didn't think it would be this bad," said Sullivan, a student in the Renaissance Academy, one of the three small schools within the high school.

Instead of heading to his regular fourth-period math class in the Renaissance Academy wing of the school, Sullivan's class had been moved to one of two temporary modular buildings the district is renting.

Five classrooms and two long hallways where the school gym sat in the 1970's were heavily damaged by the flooding.

Classes normally in those five classrooms are reconvening in the modular buildings, the library, student center and upper gym, while school offices have moved to the library office.

Nearly all of the damage was confined to the Renaissance Academy. Repairs could take months, and will total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Superintendent Randy Gravon.

Gravon said original estimates that the flooring in the Renaissance Academy could be replaced within a few weeks have been extended because of damage to the subflooring several layers underneath.

"We don't know yet exactly what the degree of damages is," said Gravon.

No official cost estimates have been made yet, but based on the opinions of an insurance adjuster who evaluated the damages, repairs at the school could exceed $250,000, according to Dennis Flenner, an insurance agent for Protectors Insurance in Medford.

All of the costs, including bringing in temporary classrooms and a portable boiler should be covered through insurance, Flenner said.

"The district didn't do this to themselves," said Flenner. "From what we can tell, it was an accident of some sort."

Crater High School was built in 1954 and leaks in the main water line had occurred in the past, Gravon said.

Renaissance Academy students returned to school Tuesday and cleaned out their lockers, which must be torn out to inspect for damage to the walls behind them.

Students said that a flood of rumors swirled among students during the past week, including some students who thought the Renaissance Academy would be closed for good.

"I wondered where they would put all the students at," said Connor Lane, a junior, who pointed out his emptied locker in the hallway Tuesday morning.

Renaissance Academy Principal Bob King said when he first heard that a broken water line would cancel classes on Feb. 11, that he didn't expect there would be much damage at the school.

"I thought we needed a day or two to dry it out," said King, who said teachers and students adjusted quickly Tuesday to their modified classrooms.

School staff had to move offices for both the Renaissance Academy and the Crater School of Health and Public Services, which also were damaged by the water.

A few computers sitting on the ground were destroyed by water, but the bulk of the damage affected only the flooring in the building, said King, who meets with the other principals, district administrators and crews from Servpro, a fire and water restoration company, each afternoon to discuss progress.

"It's disruptive, but I think everyone is coming at it with a good attitude," said King. "The kids are adapting well."

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or

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