In addition to the immediate response, teachers and staff focused on routines, relationships and resilience – already a game plan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – to help students and themselves to get well. Condreay said the trials nurtured intense bonds between students in her class and those in others.
In the weeks after the floods, Condreay said that every day a few more students came back, calm, sad and nervous, and each time the whole class cheered their return.
At the end of the year, in June, Sumas Elementary held its annual “moving-in” ceremony for fifth graders into the new building, following the demolition of the old building. The students gathered for the first time since the school was flooded.
The school sought to make the day even more special. Bus driver Kurt Devries recruited the Whatcom County Fire Department to spray his arcing hoses across the road during the students’ bus ride, and the whole school created a giant tunnel for students to fifth year. The fifth graders also displayed 1,000 paper cranes they had made over the previous weeks as an art installation at school, leaving a mark on the new building that they would not fully experience.
Earlier this year, the school district received a $3,000 donation from the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra to rebuild its music program. The school library received a $2,500 donation raised in the Scholastic Book Fair Fund from librarian Jen Frombly and Bernice Vossbeck Elementary School in Lynden, as seen on the Today Show. The Mount Baker Rotary Club has donated a new playground for early learning. Checks arrived from various people and organizations in the community, and people across the country fulfilled all of the wishes from the teachers’ Amazon listings.
“Our community has wrapped their arms around us and helped us start the new year with everything we need,” Vigre said during the welcome event.