Acting principal named for school damaged by fire

2014-03-10T09:36:00Z 2014-08-25T09:33:30Z Acting principal named for school damaged by fireBy HANNAH JOHNSON Bismarck Tribune The Billings Gazette
March 10, 2014 9:36 am  • 

DICKINSON, N.D. — An acting principal was named for Dickinson Trinity High School on Friday and students at the fire-damaged school got a visit from the bishop of the Bismarck Roman Catholic diocese as the investigation into the fire continued.

The Rev. Kregg Hochhalter, the school chaplain, was named dean of students at a public forum held at St. Wenceslaus Church.

About 250 people, mostly Trinity parents, attended the forum. Bishop David Kagan, who had toured the school and met with the school board earlier Friday, spoke to the group. Officials updated parents on the fire investigation and other details for students starting classes Monday.

Hochhalter will be the acting principal and will get his credentials to become principal in three years, said Monsignor Patrick Schumacher, the chairman of the Dickinson Catholic Schools Board.

The plan for Hochhalter to become dean of students has been in the works since the first of the year, Schumacher said, but it has now been expedited.

Thomas Sander, the Trinity principal charged with arson and endangerment by fire, had announced to his staff Feb. 10 that he would not be returning next year.

The fire early Monday caused so much damage to the school that students will not return for the remainder of the school year. Starting Monday, they will be spread out in classrooms in two elementary schools, a junior high school and a church.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be at Trinity on Tuesday as part of the arson investigation, Schumacher said.

Trinity is insured for $17 million by Catholic Mutual Group. School officials are working with insurance investigators and structural engineers to figure out how to proceed, Schumacher said.

Schumacher said officials are hoping to have the insurance process wrapped up by next week so they can start taking things out of the high school building.

They have not yet decided if they plan to build a new school or try to restore the current one.

The Dickinson Public Schools seem to be welcoming the Trinity students with open arms. Berg Elementary School, which is hosting the ninth-graders, is raising money for the Trinity school.

The Prairie Rose Elementary School, where the seventh- and eighth-graders will attend class, has been decorating lockers for the Trinity students.

“I think the surprise in unfortunate events of this magnitude is always the goodness of people,” Schumacher said.

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