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Louisa County students moving months after earthquake damaged school

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MINERAL, Va. (WTVR) - It has been almost five months since an earthquake rattled the region, including Louisa County High School.

The tremor caused the school to be condemned.  But now nearly 1500 students and 200 administration and staff members have moved into PODS located across the street from the damaged high school.  The setup will fill-in as the new facility until at least 2015.

But on Wednesday it was the first day of classes for the second time at Louisa County High.  A week after classes started in August and the earthquake shook the school.

“We just had a 5.8 earthquake here,” recalls Louisa County High School student Rolph Resto.

Resto remembers he was in class when it hit.  The high school senior says in an instant he learned an important life lesson, he won’t soon forget.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” says Resto.  “We’re not in California, so I don’t think anyone can attest to an earthquake in recent memory.”

The months following the tremor and the students were forced to share classrooms with the nearby middle school in which everyone was on a three-day-a-week schedule—to include weekends.  But things have since changed.

“This day is a significant milestone in our recovery process,” said Louisa County Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Pettit.

Dr. Pettit says the process is ongoing, as the students get used to a “new normal” inside the PODS.

“It feels like school,” exclaims Dr. Pettit.

The complex is equip with 27 units, to include 90 classrooms, a cafeteria and a main office.  Officials say it cost $1 million just to set it up.  But Dr. Pettit says the new campus offers a million reasons to smile.

“Our students have moved forward.  They’re positive; they look for the bright spots and so are we,” said Dr. Pettit.

Graduation will take place later this year on June 9, 2012, in order to make up the many days missed following the earthquake.  Also different this year, students will be in classes from 8:00 a.m. – 3:52 p.m., to ensure they complete the mandatory 990 classroom hours per year.