WHITEHALL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A year and a half ago, Whitehall High School went through some damage. An August 2020 rainstorm flooded the building, tearing through floors and inflicting $16 million in damages to the building. Although students are back in the building now, there are still things that need to be replaced.

On Tuesday, the school got some help getting itself back in order. Whitehall High School Principal Ethan Burgess received a $20,000 “Beyond Words” grant from Dollar General.

At a building that’s had to replace floors and then-new walls, and abate asbestos, the money targets one area that’s still suffering. The Whitehall High School library lost its entire book collection during the 2020 flood, and the grant is specifically for libraries that need to recoup after damages, and restock their shelves.

Jr./Sr. High School Principal Ethan Burgess explains the plan to fill the shelves with new books to General Regional Director James Hooper; Dollar General District Manager Doug McGraw at Whitehall High School in Whitehall, N.Y. (Photo: Amy Hoffer/WSWHE BOCES)

“We are grateful to be selected to receive this funding from Dollar General,” said Whitehall Superintendent Patrick Dee. “We appreciate their support of our students and community.”

At Tuesday’s event, Principal Burgess was joined by student government members Alexis MacLeod, Kamryn Baldwin, Dory Gosselin and Luis Pratt. The grant was presented by Dollar General District Manager Doug McGraw, and Whitehall store manager Bruce Bailey.

Whitehall students returned to the high school in March 2021. It was step-by-step, with 7th- and 8th-grade students coming daily for the first several weeks, while grades 9-12 came on an alternating schedule.

Following the flood, Whitehall CSD went through a months-long struggle with the district’s insurer, New York Schools Insuring Reciprocal. The insurance agency only paid out $1.8 million to help the district get back on its feet, classifying the damage as septic rather than flooding. Every room in the high school was flooded, at least an inch deep. Whitehall sought legal action against the insurer in November.