MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One year has passed since a south Minneapolis school exploded.

The event happened while crews were doing work on a gas line.

Most of Minnesota watched the images on television, but Paul Meskan saw them up close.

“It’s been in my head and my heart for the last year,” Meskan said. “Every time I walked out my front door, this is what I see.”

The off-duty Ramsey County deputy lives across the street, and was one of the first people on scene. He reflected Thursday with hundreds of others at a ceremony of memory and hope.

“It just kind of hits home, reality of what happened that day,” Meskan said. “Tragedy and the two we couldn’t save.”

Beloved secretary Ruth Berg and beloved custodian Jon Carlson who are now gone, will always be here. A newly unveiled pillar will be visible when the new building is built, bearing their names and words that have gotten this school family through: “Together we rise.”

Dr. Donna Harris, the president of the school, survived the blast from another part of the building.

“We lost Ruth and Jon but their thumbprint is all over this building, and we’re gonna honor them,” Harris said.

Like anyone who’s experienced loss, Dr. Harris spent the day reliving those moments, “I remember being in my office and all that occurred and the loss we experienced together. You know, my faith has kept me deeply rooted and I don’t understand. I don’t say, ‘God why?’ I say I trust you and know that you are with us.”

But she says beauty has risen from these ashes, and lessons no textbook could teach.

“We are strong, resilient and optimistic about the future,” Minnehaha Academy junior Danyelle Richardson said from the memorial service. “We have so much to look forward to and we are ready to share that message with the world.”

In one year, construction on the new school is set to be complete.



Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield


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