Part of Eldredge Gym Ceiling Collapses During PE Class; No Injuries

The portion of ceiling that fell onto the gym floor at Eldredge Tuesday.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

There will be no school at Eldredge Wednesday so the whole building can be inspected. 

East Greenwich, R.I. – A section of plaster ceiling in the gymnasium at Eldredge Elementary School, including a light fixture, fell Tuesday morning during a third grade gym class. No one was injured.

School officials said the incident happened at approximately 10:55 a.m.  Students and two faculty members were in a different area of the gym at the time. Principal Dan Seger sent an email to parents on Tuesday.

Here’s a portion of that email:

Fortunately, no one was hurt.  Both Ms. Peduto and her students were quite obviously shaken by this event, and we have called in student service supports for anyone requiring them.  The Director of Facilities is on the scene, has locked off the gymnasium, and has contacted the building inspector to review the entire area.  The portion of the facility is closed until further notice.   We are taking all necessary steps to ensure student safety.

“We avoided what could have been very catastrophic,” said Supt. Victor Mercurio Tuesday evening.

He said one student said the collapse looked as if the ceiling came “unzipped.”

According to Mercurio, the ceiling over the gym is a different type than ceilings in the rest of the building but that, as a precautionary measure, ceilings in the entire school will inspected by Halliwell Engineering Associates Wednesday. There will be no school.

“As a precaution, we said, let’s get an engineering firm here and look at the whole building structurally,” said Mercurio. “I want to err on the side of caution.”

In an email sent out to Eldredge families, Mercurio said he would follow up with Wednesday afternoon, “upon completion of this structural engineering review.”

He said the initial inspection showed no sign of asbestos.



‘Always Above & Beyond’ – EG Teacher of Year Kara Ratigan

Kara Ratigan’s always been one of those teachers everyone wants – students and parents alike.

“You got Mrs. Ratigan?”  “Your child got Mrs. Ratigan?” … “You’re so lucky,” is the frequent refrain in August and September.

She’s just one of those teachers. Recently the Eldredge Elementary fourth-grade teacher was recognized by the state Department of Education as the East Greenwich Teacher of the Year.

It’s the second time in two years that a teacher from Eldredge was honored – Elaine Smith was named EG Teacher of the Year last year.

“I was just so touched by it,” said Ratigan after a recent School Committee meeting where she was honored. All the honorees from around the state were celebrated at a special Waterfire in Providence in September. “It was really neat,” she said.

The way the process works, according to Eldredge Principal Dom Giusti, is someone has to nominate the teacher. In this case, it was the family of a former student.

“It’s really nice when it comes from a parent,” he said.

About Ratigan, Giusti was enthusiastic in his praise.

“Kara’s fabulous. We alway expect everyone at Eldredge to go above and beyond and she sets the bar. She leads the charge,” he said. “Any new initiative, she raises her hand first. At the tech conference – she went before it was popular. She goes to the all-day Saturday STEM conference at Rhode Island College. She’s the liaison with the PTG. I don’t have to ask her to do anything. She volunteers before I get a chance to call her.”

When it comes to her students, said Giusti, “It’s all about the kids. Every single day, there’s a smile on her face. She individualizes all instruction. She does it all.”

He noted Ratigan often gets contacted by area universities to act as a critic-teacher for their teaching students. “Everyone wants her,” he said.

And East Greenwich has got her. We’re so lucky.

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