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

by | Apr 10, 2018

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.



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April 10, 2018 11:19 pm

an engineering firm….for failed sheetrock. im willing to bet they didnt install it per modern code or was installed using nails. chances are all the ceilings done in this matter will need to be rescrewed. doing that would of been cheaper and guranteed fix. but way to blow more money.

Cheryl Osborne
Cheryl Osborne
April 11, 2018 7:38 am

If he didn’t get an engineer, people would give him grief for that. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. He can’t win. When you are dealing with the safety of hundreds of students, you have to go above and beyond.

April 11, 2018 9:51 am

Thank God no one was hurt. Spent many happy hours in that gym playing murder ball under Mr. Kershaw’s tutelage, at a science fair overseen by Mr. Woodbury, and at several awkward junior-high dances.

Alan Clarke
Alan Clarke
April 11, 2018 10:34 am

THE LAST TIME I was in the Eldredge gymnasium Bertha D. Carr was holding her dance recitals and they taught us how to use a dial telephone. I don’t know if the ceiling in the 90 year-old school’s gym is sheetrock or the original hard plaster from when it was built. Charlie Algren, the town’s first building inspector, was on the job, he was writing the codes of the day, and he was not into shoddy. I do know that it is one solid building and the pride of older East Greenwich folk. I’ve often heard it said that it was built on the site of a former town dump, but the foundation was so well laid by Secondo Cevoli & Co. that it hasn’t shifted nor the floors cracked. Much of the soil removed was used to level Main Street and for other town projects. I hope they have taken care of the place in the 65 years since I was last there. It was named to honor the town’s much adored medicine man for most of the 1800s.


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