St. Charles students relocate to a new school to finish out the year

SPOKANE, Wash. — St. Charles Church and School are still under renovation after someone set the building on fire. This left students without a place to learn, but the community came together to help them finish off the year in person.

For the whole year, St. Charles students have been learning in-person. In the fall, they adopted a new Catholic Classical curriculum which is centered around discussion and student interaction. However, the fire forced them out of their classrooms until Spokane Public Schools offered them an alternate location. Now, the students are filling the halls at the old Jefferson Elementary school and making the most of the new normal.

“It’s just such a blessing that we were able to find another location to be at, because instantly the first day, the kids were filled with energy,” said Grace Hayden, a St. Charles kindergarten teacher. “They were so excited to see each other.”

During the transition, students did learn remotely for two weeks, but they weren’t used to it at all. Learning at Jefferson has been different but well received.

“There were a lot of new things that they still had to adjust to, but it was a lot more comfortable because it looked like a classroom,” Hayden said.

Spokane Public Schools donated the building and furniture, and parents and volunteers donated school supplies and helped transform the abandoned building into a usable learning space. No matter the obstacle, school officials knew they had to find a way to get their 130 students in-person again.

“Our community and our parents and kids really wanted that,” said Heather Schlaich, St. Charles’ principal. “They wanted to get back together. We weren’t going to let this stop us.”

Both Schlaich and Hayden are thankful for how much support the school’s received from the community. They had a lot of other offers from different organizations and churches for possible locations to use, but it was important to keep all the students together. Learning at Jefferson made the most sense for their families, but they’re still so grateful to see how the community banded together for the kids.

“When we all work together for the common goal of working for kids and having a heart for kids, we can do anything together,” Schlaich said.

“Seeing that and feeling that sense of community made it worth going through all that traumatic experience,” Hayden said.

The school year ends on June 11. Next fall, they are hoping to move back into St. Charles.