Students return to repaired Murphy Elementary in Round Lake Park
The first day of school for students at Murphy Elementary School in Round Lake Park was special, and not just because a person in a giant horse costume greeted them Wednesday morning.
For the first time since floodwaters damaged their school last July, students were able to have physical education indoors, check out books from a library room and not have to use mobile classrooms.
"It is fantastic to have everything back online," Principal Phil Georgia said.
Last school year, the staff and students had to make do without their gymnasium, which doubled as a lunchroom, or their library and computer room. In addition, four classrooms on the lower level were rendered unusable.
Murphy held an all-school assembly in the revamped gym.
"We realized that the current second-graders had never even been in the gym before," Georgia said. "We got to do the school song and other community building things, and there were two grade levels of kids who didn't know the school song."
Georgia said the biggest addition this year is the Limitless Learning Commons, the school's new hybrid library and computer room, which features modular furniture and new technology. Last year there was a temporary library stocked with donated books set up in a hallway.
The school had so many donated books last year, the staff would sometimes tell students to keep the ones they liked. This year, students will need to learn how to check out books in the new system and bring them back, Georgia said.