By Makenzie O’Keefe

GREELEY, Colo. – On Monday, many students across the state are going back to school, including students at Meeker Elementary School in Greeley.

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Back in November, a water main break flooded the school and shut it down. The damage was so extensive it took crews months to make the repairs.

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“It was devastating. The damage was extensive,” explained Deirdre Pilch, the Superintendent of Greeley-Evans District 6. “Not only was the damage to all of the floor coverings, but water had seeped into the walls and most of the furniture was damaged with water and mud.”

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Students and staff had to be moved to a nearby church, where they continued learning for the remainder of the school year.

“It was just fantastic being at the church because we had a place to go and we were together, but it just wasn’t home,” explained Jamie Smith, a first grade teacher.

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Staff says although it was a crisis, there was a silver lining. After the school was gutted, school leaders were able to re-envision the learning environment for the kids.

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“We had an opportunity here to really impact the climate and culture of the building by creating a beautiful space,” Pilch said. “Staff was able to really think about the way in which they work with kids to help them learn.”

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The renovated building includes new innovate seating, advanced technology, and even sliding glass walls that allow different classrooms to work together.

“There is no question in my mind that it will have a big impact on teachers and students learning,” Pilch said.

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Teachers and other staff members were able to see the new building for the first time on Sunday. They spent the day working quickly to move everything into the building and be ready for classes to start on Monday morning.

“It’s just beautiful and bright,” Smith said. “It’s family fun day Sunday for my family helping me get my classroom together.”

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The only rooms that will not be ready by the start of the school year are the gym and the cafeteria. Pilch said food will be brought from a nearby school to feed students until the cafeteria is ready.

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Makenzie O’Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.