Charter kids doing well months later

Charter School third-grader Manny Santana, 9, of Shirley practices making a 911 call with Riverhead firefighter Fran Davis last Thursday morning. It was fitting the children attended a fire safety program; a blaze ripped through a Charter School building in March, forcing the students to move to another location.

Riverhead Charter School students are still attending classes at the St. John the Evangelist campus in Riverhead as they await repairs after a fire damaged a building on the main campus on Route 25 in Calverton in February.

Charter School principal Dorothy Porteus said elective classes, including art, music and gym, have resumed at the new space and that the kids are doing well.

She said enrollment at the school, which includes about 230 students from 16 districts in Suffolk County, continues to grow and that 51 children so far have registered to begin kindergarten this fall.

“I’m meeting with new parents every day,” Ms. Porteus said.

A faulty air-conditioning unit touched off the blaze, which destroyed two classrooms in a modular building at the school on Feb. 21.

The damaged building is being repaired but permit applications are pending to build a permanent structure to replace it. “We anticipate possibly a different building at a future date,” she said. The school’s historic main building was not damaged in the fire.

Kindergarten through second-grade classes were held at the North Shore Christian Church on Kroemer Ave. in Riverhead for three days after the fire, while fourth- through sixth-graders continued class at the main campus. Later that week, all students were moved to the St. John’s campus.

Ms. Porteus hopes to move all classes back to the campus by September. The school’s lease with the church will expire at the end of the school year.

Despite the fire, it has been business as usual at St. John’s, she said. Recently, students held a Mother’s Day tea attended by dozens of parents, and some classes took a field trip to the nearby Riverhead Fire Department for a course in fire safety.

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