The sound of children’s laughter returned to the Blue Mountain Seventh-Day Adventist Elementary School playground Sunday afternoon as school officials, teachers, parents, contractors and builders gathered at the site of where the building once stood before a tornado blew it down on July 9, 2015.
Standing on an empty cement slab, the small crowd prayed and sang “The BME school was built up the rock, until the tornado blew it down. The prayers went up and the blessing came down,” led by the elementary school choir and Grade 5 to 8 Principal Mina Gravatt.
“When the tornado happened, I watched a community come together,” Gravatt said. “It is only fitting that we recognize what God did here... Satan brought destruction, but God’s hand brought protection that I am so grateful that he did.”
Gravatt presented a plaque to Principal Rachel Wardecke who was trapped in the collapse of the building during the tornado.
“God is good, all the time,” said Wardecke.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held to signify the rebirth of the Blue Mountain Elementary School. Shoveling the first mounds of dirt were President of Pennsylvania Conference Ray Hartwell, Pa Conference Vice President of Education Dr. Jeff Bovee, School Board Chair Dr. Merle Whitney, BME Building Coordinator Ed Cale, Hamburg Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Alex DuBee, Blue Mountain Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Sanghae Kim, Grade 5 to 8 Principal Mina Gravatt, 8th Grade President Summer Dekle, 8th Grade Pastor Tyler Flower and 8th Grade Secretary and Treasurer Nathan Dialectakis.
“We’re very to be here today,” said Bovee. “We’ve been waiting quite some time for this day.”
Bovee recognized Principal Wardecke for her efforts during the past year in working with the teachers.
“It is a tremendous challenge to face the loss of a school. There is more work to it than anybody realizes unless you’re on staff and you have to work through that,” said Bovee. “In addition to meeting the needs of the students in getting ready for a school year, we had to find a new location.”
He said the staff did an amazing job of meeting the needs of the students, as well as the school board and the churches.
“The Seventh-Day Adventist education is alive and well in this community,” said Bovee. “We’re very excited about the very soon reality that a building is going to come up in this very location. Once again students will be able to come to this place to learn.”
Ray Menges of Conewago Enterprises is the general contractor for the school rebuild.
“We are honored as a community builder and as a family oriented builder to be selected to rebuild this school for you,” said Menges.