Costa Catholic community rallies after storm damage, opens relocated school

By Paul Thomas Moore of The Catholic Post

GALESBURG — The old saying is “April showers bring May flowers,” but in this case it was more like “summer rains cause back-to-school pains.”

Extensive summer storm damage at Costa Catholic Academy from a broken roof pipe rendered the building at 2726 Costa Drive — near Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in the city’s northern region — inhospitable for the scheduled start of classes on Aug. 16. A temporary home had to be found for approximately 150 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students — and fast.

The McAteer Center on the campus of Corpus Christi Parish in Galesburg will host the 150 students of Costa Catholic Academy for the next few months. The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody

But with the help of the Costa Catholic community, it was “all systems go” for an only slightly-delayed first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Temporary classrooms were set up at McAteer Center on the campus of Corpus Christi Parish, near downtown at 273 S. Prairie St.

Dr. Susan Miller, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Peoria, credited the community’s commitment to its children with making it all possible. “They did such a good job,” she said. 

As McAteer Center normally houses offices for area parishes, first the spaces had to be cleared out and parish operations moved temporarily into the Corpus Christi rectory. Dr. Miller said the teachers then compiled wish lists “of things they would like for their classrooms, and the community did it for them.” 

Parents were ready, willing, and able to help. OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg chipped in with furniture, and the City of Galesburg contributed, among many others. 

Dr. Miller especially cited the commitment of Costa Catholic Academy’s teachers. “They had to get all new stuff, come into a room they’d never seen before, and figure out how to do it,” she told The Catholic Post. Moreover, it all had to be done over the course of about a week — ending with no small amount of “labor” over the Labor Day weekend. “I mean, they’re rock stars. They are. They came together, did what needed to be done, and they were ready to go (Sept. 5) — it was beautiful to see.”  

Dr. Miller said the goal is to be back in the refurbished school by Christmas, and when work is complete Costa Catholic Academy will end up with “pretty much” a whole new school interior.

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