Ready for students: Gym, cafeteria at Mitchell School open for first time since fire

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RACINE (WITI) -- It's the end of months of restoration efforts for Mitchell School in Racine, after an accidental fire this past winter destroyed the school's gymnasium. Students and teachers were able to use their new gym and cafeteria, for the first time, on Monday, November 16th.

Bowling is an activity third grader Brandon Zamorano missed after spending the beginning of the school year without a real space for physical education. An accidental fire in February that started in the gym, caused major damage. The gym was destroyed and the roof collapsed. That took away the students' cafeteria too, which doubled as the gym.

"That particular day was kind of a speechless day, I didn`t know, I had never seen anything quite like that," said principal Soren Gajewski.

Last school year, during the repairs, students were bussed to other district buildings for class. This school year, they came back to Mitchell, but work was only half-finished. That meant gym class was outdoors or even in the school hallways, when there was bad weather.

"I was checking the hourly, and daily forecast, I mean if it was going to rain, I would check the hourly," said physical education teacher Annie Sireno.

It was a real struggle for kids and their teacher who had to adapt to exercises they could do indoors, like jump rope instead of play soccer.

Now there is a new facility with extra basketball hoops and new equipment. Plus, there is a separate room altogether for kids to eat, which means physical education teachers no longer have to convert their gym into a cafeteria.

Zamorano has high hopes for the future.

More exercise. More activity. More sports," said Zamorano.

Total cost of the repairs and renovations was about $1.8 million dollars. Insurance covers $1.6 million. The school district also had to pay a $50,000 deductible.