Castlewood still rebuilding school as new semester begins

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Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT
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CASTLEWOOD, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - It was the first day of school Wednesday for students in Castlewood.

Just this spring, Castlewood was hit hard by a derecho, with a tornado actually touching down in the small South Dakota town.

Besides damaging homes and infrastructure, the twister destroyed the local school’s gym, as well as a major portion of classrooms, causing the district to cut the 2021-2022 school year short and move senior graduation to Lake Area Technical College in Watertown.

As this new school year begins, the community continues to rebuild its school.

Castlewood School District Superintendent Peter Brooks says he knew it would be a long road ahead after the destruction left behind on May 12th.

“It’s definitely been stressful on everybody, and hard, but the community, the staff, the school board, everybody has been working together and everyone understands the situation.”

Books says it has taken a true community effort just to get to this point, and it’s going to be a school year unlike any other for Castlewood.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time,” Books said.

Wednesday, 5th through 12th-grade students returned to classes.

“We had kids show up 35 minutes early to school today, so they’re excited to be here and get rolling,” Castlewood Teacher & Network Administrator Leslie Tvedt said.

Currently, the elementary wing of the school is unusable, along with the lunch room, kitchen, and gym.

Across the street from the school, to the south, crews are working to prep a site where mobile units will be installed, consisting of eight classrooms and four offices. But, those units aren’t expected to be operational until mid-October.

In the meantime, elementary students will attend classes in two local churches, starting September 6th.

The band room and library remain under reconstruction as well.

“It’s not going to be perfect, and it’s going to be the year of constant changing and flexibility,” Books said.

While this school year will present its challenges, those in the community are staying positive.

“Every day is going to get better as we keep moving through this,” Tvedt said.