The Van Texas district is ready to build a school to replace the one destroyed last year by a tornado KLTV-TV

The Van (Texas) district is ready to build a school to replace the one destroyed last year by a tornado.

Van (Texas) district breaks ground on replacement for elementary lost in tornado

$14.1 million, 500-student facility will replace elementary school destroyed in May 2015

The Van (Texas) district has begun construction of an elementary school to replace the one destroyed 10 months ago in a tornado.

The new J.E. Rhodes Elementary School will cost $14.1 million and provide classroom space for 500 students in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, Superintendent Don Dunn said on the district web site. The building also will have a gymnasium, library, cafeteria and outdoor courtyard/classroom.

"Even though the tornado took our elementary building from us, it did not take any of our students and for that we are so thankful," Dunn says. "We have been through the recover and restore phases and are so excited to begin the rebuilding phase."

On May 10, 2015, the original Rhodes Elementary School sustained severe damage when a deadly tornado struck Van. Two area residents were killed, and several others were injured. The school, as well as the the original high school gym, which also was damaged in the tornado, were demolished several weeks after the storm.

The front entrance of the new school was designed to evoke memories of the original high school gym, Dunn says.

The building will take 12 to 14 months to complete and is scheduled to open in 2017, KLTV-TV reports.

Video from KLTV-TV:

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