September 23, 2014

California School Gets Back on Feet After Quake

With an
outpouring of donations and clean-up assistance, an Adventist school in northern
California is getting back on its feet after a powerful earthquake forced it to
close just four days into the academic year.

The 130 students
at the Napa Christian Campus of Education are back in class, but repairs are
ongoing and the school’s owner, the Northern California Conference, is seeking
to collect the last $130,000 of the $200,000 needed to restore the school.

The K-12
school in the city of Napa sustained major damage when the 6.0 quake struck in
the early morning of Aug. 24, a Sunday. No one was on the premises at the time,
and the school, like many properties in earthquake-prone California, did not
have expensive insurance coverage against quakes.

So local
volunteers rallied to help clean up, and the Northern California Conference quickly
raised $15,000 — the amount of money needed to reopen the school for classes — in
an online drive. The conference set a two-month goal of raising $200,000 on the

financial generosity of people across the nation — plus the cards and letters —
has been so inspiring and heart-warming,” said Charlotte Henderson, the
school’s director of development.

Christian has seen the hand of God throughout this disaster,” she said. “The
volunteers who dove in to clean up all the broken shambles that allowed us to
reopen the school in one week’s time were an extension of God’s hand.”

<strong>UNDER REPAIR:</strong> The sight that greeted teachers after the quake, top photos, and how the same rooms look today. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Leal / NCC

Classes resumed
on Sept. 2, and slightly more than $67,000 has been raised for repairs, with
creative fundraising efforts providing a big boost, including:

  • The
    nearby Elmshaven church sold organic corn grown in its community garden, and
    its Adventist Community Services pledged to match the money raised, up to
  • Sacramento
    Adventist Academy promoted “Nickels for Napa,” with a collection jar in each classroom
    and signs inviting students to donate spare change and dollars.
  • Hilltop
    Christian School in Antioch held a carwash and raised more than $1,300.
  • In the
    Central California Conference, San Francisco Adventist School also had a
    carwash and a tostada sale, raising $800.
  • Other
    organizations are holding more traditional fundraisers, such as Orangevale SDA
    School, near Sacramento, which set a goal of $1,000 for its K-8 students.
  • More
    recently, an anonymous donor pledged last week to match up to $25,000 on
    donations made through Oct. 1.

“All this
support is truly the definition of what our church is all about,” said
principal Justine Leonie. “We take care of each other in times like this.”

anticipated some nervousness and began the first day back at school by inviting
the students to talk about the earthquake.

“My job
is to make sure they are aware that if something happens, we have a plan to
keep them safe,” said Janet Wright, who teaches the fifth and sixth grades.

<strong>VOLUNTEERS AT WORK:</strong> Young people cleaning up a room, left, and the room today. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Leal / NCC

grader Soren Pang said he was happy to be back. “I was so sad that we couldn’t
come to school the week after the earthquake,” he said. “I actually really love
school and especially this school.”

grader Isabella Aitken said she was grateful that no one was injured. “I’m glad
God protected us during the earthquake,” she said. “Lots of stuff was broken,
but nobody was hurt.”

school’s recovery efforts have been divided into three stages: cleanup and
organizing, which was important to get school reopened; repairing damage and
retrofitting to make the school’s buildings safer during future quakes; and
gymnasium repairs, which are large and still unknown.

after the quake, city inspectors placed a “yellow tag” on the gym, severely
restricting its use. Professionals are assessing the damage and calculating the

continue to be blessed with an Adventist volunteer architect, structural
engineer, and other specifically skilled individuals in order to get our
facilities operational again,” Leonie said.

hope that they will be able to use the gym soon.

“The rest
of the school year has got to be better than how it started,” said eighth
grader Tanner Buller. “I’m looking forward to basketball season and hoping the
gym will be repaired by then.”


Napa Christian Campus of
Education’s fundraising page

Northern California
Conference’s quake blog

Adventist Review, Aug.
29, 2014: “California Quake Devastates Adventist School”