YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Hundreds of students at Grafton High and Middle schools returned to school Tuesday, but at a different location.
But class won’t be the same for a while, thanks to the fire at Grafton Complex, which houses both schools. Instead, middle school students are going to Tabb Middle. High school students are going to class at York High.
10 On Your Side’s Tamara Scott stopped by York High School, where the students received a very warm welcome. Signs in the halls read “Yorfton.”
The temporary merger is a change that can be hard for some students, teachers and others.
“It’s been weird because we are so used to Grafton; I mean we’ve been going there for four years and now we’re at a completely new place and we’re kinda just being thrown in there,” senior Grafton student Catherine Sanders said.
It’s a change York High School has embraced and welcomed with open arms.
“York has been incredible. The teachers — you go down the hallway, there’s ‘welcome Grafton,’ signs, there is our logo everywhere,” said Grafton Band director Darien Kirsch.
The students say they are feeling the love.
“We’ve had a rivalry for years and now it’s like we’re becoming family,” said Sanders.
Teachers are also embracing the opportunity.
“There are benefits to see your kids everyday that we don’t normally get. It’s going to create problems in some classes, and it may help in others, but I think there is some benefit in seeing your kids everyday, and then sharing a space, and then working with that other individual. It gives you a chance to collaborate when you might not normally have that opportunity,” said Kirsch.
Principal Whitney Cataldo said through all the craziness, one thing is top of mind for her.
“Getting students back into instruction as soon as possible and finding a solution that allowed them to continue with their courses, special programs … and also balancing out the needs of our families in the community,” said Cataldo.
Of course, the students have some other priorities.
“Spirit week, pep rallies, graduation, prom. Yeah, super excited about that,” said Olivia Smalls, a Grafton senior.
They say “Yorfton” is the best place for both.
They have even made T-shirts and sweaters with their new logo. School supplies have also been donated and are being distributed to the new students.
The school division said there were a few late buses Tuesday, but it is likely that weather may have affected the routes.
“We will continue to monitor arrival and dismissal and make adjustments as needed,” the division said.
The Grafton phone numbers have been routed to the new school locations.
As for the Grafton Complex itself, the school division says initial air quality tests found no traces of lead. The next step is to begin cleaning the areas affected by the fire, before the remaining items left behind when the fire broke out can be retrieved.
Stay with WAVY for updates on the process.
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