Middle School 1

Pripyat’s Secondary school one holds the unenviable accolade of being one of the first buildings in Pripyat to partially collapse. The initial collapse occurred in 2005. It then suffered a more significant collapse in March 2013 (not pictured).

I visited the school twice. Once in 2010, where the bright sunlight wreaked havoc with exposure, and again in 2011 where a lack of light was a more familiar challenge.

It was very damp inside. With each floor closer to the failing roof the wetter it got. Water ran down the walls and the level of moisture in the air increased. On the upper floors to such an extent that many of the window panes had misted up.

It’s disconcerting now to see that only the walls remain of classrooms I’d stood in just two years prior. A stark reminder that radiation is not the only danger you face in Pripyat.

Approaching the school, colourful murals could be seen from the ground in the collapsed section. Although it was still possible to cross into that section of the school I was never tempted to take a closer look.

Another lasting memory from the school is the amount of propaganda the children were exposed to. I’d seen remnants throughout the city but, naively, I hadn’t made the link with education from such a young age.

It’s sad to see the condition of the school. Not because it’s anything special architecturally but because it’s a fate that inevitably awaits all of the cities buildings. They are however just buildings.

A video filmed on 8mm by Alexander Sirota who was in Grade 3 of School Number 1 at the time.
A view of the school from the rear.
(Photo courtesy of Pripyat.City.Ru)
Two rows of teachers and pupils posing for a photograph outside the school.
Teachers and pupils in 1981 (Pripyat.City.Ru).
Pupils sit around a long table with the tutor at one end.

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