WILKES-BARRE — After the ceremonial blessing of the new St. Nicholas/St. Mary School Learning Resource Center on Wednesday, the ribbon was cut and students were allowed their first look at the facility that “rose from the ashes” of a fire in May.
As the students — from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade — entered the new modular unit, their comments went from “Wow” to “Amazing” to “I love it.”
The new learning center has yet to have its bookshelves stocked, but about 32 new computers sat ready to be turned on for students to do research and, most importantly, learn.
Monsignor Joseph G. Rauscher, pastor of St. Nick’s, and Monsignor Thomas V. Banick, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, offered comments and blessed the building with holy water before cutting the ribbon to open the doors of the South Washington Street building.
“Whenever I need to learn something, I ask a child,” Rauscher said, referring to the students’ computer skills. “We’ve come full circle now, and I thank everyone for all their hard work in getting us to this day.”
Banick said he learned to love books as a child, and remembered his first set of World Book encyclopedias.
“Books open the world to us, ” he said.
On May 30, fire heavily damaged the former library, with hundreds of books lost and total damages on $90,000. The cause of the fire was traced to an electrical outlet, according to city fire inspectors.
Nearly 400 students in pre-K through eighth grade attend the school. A group of seventh-graders came away impressed with the new learning center.
“It’s so nice,” said Haley Jendrzejewski, 12. “It’s much better than before; it’s amazing.”
Claudio Sobejano, 12, said the new center appears to be more organized and equipped with more computers.
Christian Ransom and Kaitlyn Brennan said the new building has more room and appears to be a safer place to learn.
“It will make for good times in learning,” said Payton Safka, 12.
Emily Nguyen and Kevin Dessoye said they can see more opportunities for learning in the new library.
“I think it offers more, newer technology for us to utilize,” said Alex Boris.
Sister Mary Catherine Slattery, former principal for 16 years, returned to the school for the ceremony and she was busy getting hugs from her former students.
“It’s so nice to see the building back in operation,” she said. “After all we went through, it’s great to see the new learning center.”
Chris Tigue, the school’s current principal, and Kathleen Hannon, diocesan superintendent, welcomed the students and the school’s choir led the crowd in song.