Tuesday morning, students at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis took time away from the classroom to watch a science experiment they likely won't forget. With the help of Ameren Illinois, the school's principal was lifted high into the air by a bucket truck to test the new windows being installed at the school. The students counted down and cheered as a baseball, a softball and a piece of concrete were dropped one at a time on a new window below on the blacktop. Each time, the balls and concrete bounced off the window without cracking it.
In 2015, vandals smashed 35 windows at the Catholic school. When members of the community, area businesses and alumni heard the news, they immediately wanted to help.
"The community came together to rebuild the school and make sure it survived," said Principal Dan Nickerson.
Through fundraisers and generous donations from area businesses, more than $150,000 has been raised in the two years since. About 40 new shatter-resistant windows have been installed. The school now has a goal to replace all older windows in the school, some dating back to the 1950s. The school hopes to raise $300,000 total to install about 70 more windows by the end of the school year.