Castlewood students return to school in local churches

Three churches in Castlewood are being utilized Wednesday and Thursday to give students the chance to close out the school year.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 5:16 PM CDT
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CASTLEWOOD, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Three churches in Castlewood are being utilized Wednesday and Thursday to give students the chance to close out the school year.

After a tornado caused severe damage to Castlewood’s school, the future of the building is still unknown.

”What we do know is that about half of the building is structurally sound, and the other half is not. Our goal, of course, is can we be in some of the building and utilize some of the building in August? That’s what we’re working toward, but we don’t know that right now,” said Castlewood Superintendent Peter Books.

What the administration did know is they wanted to give their students a chance to gather again before the summer.

”It was very important to us, the administration and the school board, not to just be done and to gain some sort of closure for the staff, for the students, for the community,” said Books.

It was also a way to check in on the students.

“It also gave us an opportunity to touch base with all of our kids and assess any potential mental health things that we maybe need to have on our radar moving forward, and even into the summer. So, I just wanted to see them all and give them an opportunity to see each other as well,” said Castlewood Principal Angela Keszler.

Local churches in town stepped up to offer space to make it happen. Surrounding communities stepped up to provide the school supplies lost in the storm.

”We put out a need for supplies and it was filled in minutes. So, we’ve just had a great outpouring, and we just really appreciate what everybody has done to help us get through this,” said Keszler.

For the 25 members of the senior class, they realize they won’t get the chance to return to the school they once knew.

“I think 100% there was an attachment. For must of us, we grew up in that building from kindergarten to 12th grade. We walked the halls and we watched basically every graduation of them walking down the big gym. For us, it is that crowning moment that we’re missing, but I think we’re all doing a great job of getting our closure, even though it’s tough at this time,” said senior Brianna Zimny.

For Zimny, spending her last day of school in a church doesn’t feel the same, but her class is trying to make light of the situation.

”I’m pretty glad we got a class day together, however, it’s in churches and it’s across town. So, it doesn’t really feel like our last day, if that makes sense, but I am glad we get to make some memories, talk about everything, joke around about making a whirlwind of our senior year,” said Zimny.

The Castlewood class of 2022 will be holding their graduation ceremony in Watertown on May 21st at Lake Area Technical College’s Student Center.

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