Archive for Saturday, May 10, 2003

Raintree Montessori pulls together — again

May 10, 2003


Dozens of volunteers Friday gathered debris and made repairs at Raintree Montessori School after the school's second brush with tragedy in less than three years.

Raintree had to be rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2000, and Thursday night's twister that damaged roofs, windows, screens and playground equipment at the private school on Clinton Parkway brought back powerful memories.

"I'm tired of it," said Raintree teacher Heather Eichhorn.

She said the efforts of 40 volunteers helping with recovery efforts, and lack of injury among Raintree students and staff, were like a soothing balm.

"Our community is wonderful," she said. "Our staff and families are pulling us together."

Eichhorn said she anticipated the school would reopen Monday. Classes were called off Friday.

Owners of the school, Lleanna and Keith McReynolds, were scheduled to arrive today in Lawrence by train. They've been on an annual trip to Chicago with Raintree's 16 sixth-graders.

They won't return in time to see much of the wreckage.

"It looks amazing outside," Eichhorn said after the all-day cleanup.

"This morning, it was covered with white insulation and shingles. There were trees down, scattered playground equipment."

More than 300 preschool and elementary students attend the school, 4601 Clinton Parkway.

Eichhorn said she had no damage estimate.

"We're still waiting for the insurance adjuster," she said.

In August 2000, a suspicious fire destroyed the school started 22 years earlier by the McReynolds. It caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage.

Raintree's main academic building was rebuilt. A four-classroom expansion was incorporated into the project along with a commercial kitchen, elevator and a sprinkler system.

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