MINNEAPOLIS - Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris was in her second-floor office when it happened.
"I was interviewing someone, and I got a tap on the door (from someone saying) that we needed to get out of the building. I took one step in my office and there was just a huge explosion," said Harris.
The force knocked her shoes off and threw her to the back of the room.
"You know, it's just such a shock. You're just in survival mode," said Harris.
Smoke was everywhere. The windows were blown out. Harris and the man she was interviewing, who she had just met, grabbed hands and walked to the ledge so firefighters could help them down.
She looked back at what was left of her office.
"To know that space was gone. I just was in shock. Literally in shock," said Harris.
Harris was taken to the hospital and later released. She was worried there might have been students in that part of the building.
"I was tremendously grateful to God that we did not have a student there. I wish we had not had adults in the building," said Harris.
Two staff members, 47-year-old Ruth Berg and 82-year-old John Carlson, were killed in the explosion.
"Ruth was just a wonderful, sweet spirit. And I mean that," said Harris. "John walks through the hallway with his Dilly Bars and his stories of all his memories of how Minnehaha Academy was so special to him," said Harris.
An Academy that's stood for over 100 years now devastated and swarmed with questions about what's next for the school and the community.
"I know that we will recover and we'll honor Ruth and we'll honor John and we'll find a way to celebrate their memories and they won't be forgotten," said Harris.
In an email from the district, Harris said Upper School will likely start classes Tuesday, September 5, as "we need more time to effectively plan the school year." Lower and Middle School orientation days and the start day will not change, she added. There will be no change to the Upper School athletic schedule, so fall sports will begin Monday, August 14.
Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Ed Graff says he's reached out to Minnehaha Academy to offer assistance adding Lincoln Community School may a facility that could be used to help in this time of need.
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