September 26, 2012

Picking up the pieces

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

A week after a semi crashed into Johnson Corners Christian Academy, the school and its administrator, Pastor Adrian Timmons, have answered and addressed issues and are preparing to move forward.
Timmons spent the week meeting with engineers and inspectors, formulating a plan for the school building and the school. But, keeping his eye on what’s important, his main focus is on healing.
“We want to express our sympathy for the family that lost a wife and mother in this tragic crash. What the family must be going through hasn’t been lost on our family, or the families of those who attend our school. We also want to let the driver of the truck know how sorry we are for the trauma he must be going through in all this, and that he is heavy on our hearts and the hearts of the families who attend the Academy,” states Timmons.
Knowing that healing from such an incident would not be quick or easy for anyone involved, Timmons also called in a group of counselors from Anchor Christian Counseling in Bismarck to arrange counseling for the parents and students of the Academy.
“One of the best things in this kind of trauma is for the kids to get together, see the school and verbalize what happened,” states Timmons. “They need to know that what they may be experiencing is normal.
At 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, Timmons invited students and parents to the school to meet with the counselors.
“The counselors did a great job explaining what to expect in the days to come,” states Johnson Corners Academy Assistant Principal Connie Klamm. “They got them to open up and it was a good step toward healing.”
According to Rachel Thompson, the parent of two Academy children, the counseling session was very helpful for both parents and students.
“It’s good to know what to watch for and how to handle it,” states Thompson.
Thompson’s son, Isaac, states that since the crash he has been doing well. In fact, according to Klamm and Thompson, all the students seem to be doing well since the crash.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to school and anxious to see how everything turns out,” Isaac states.
“I’ve missed school,” states John Timmons, an Academy student. “Staying home is boring and I’m looking forward to getting back.”
With meetings out of the way and a plan in place, Timmons is also looking forward to getting the school going soon.
“The safety inspectors have determined that the building is structurally sound and the existing building can be repaired, which means we can be back to normal a lot sooner and that is good for the kids,” states Timmons.
Once it was decided that they would keep the existing structure, people started working as soon as they could.
“Adults have been coming to the school to help clean as well as start securing the building with braces, so school can resume as quickly as possible,” states Klamm. “We are waiting for an okay from the fire marshal, but right now our tentative goal is for school to be in session by this Wednesday.”
Timmons adds that the school plans to install sound barriers, so the construction can proceed without disruption to the students. Once that is done, the construction company will begin rebuilding the school with an estimated finish line of around Christmas.
Both Klamm and Timmons expressed a tremendous appreciation for the community and the way people have responded to this event.
“It’s amazing how people come in and help,” states Klamm. “Our community is very good about coming alongside people in accidents and tragedies and it makes a huge difference.”
“We just want to thank the community so much for the way they have responded to this incident,” states Timmons. “Everyone has chipped in and their support has been awesome. We are very appreciative.”