School Furniture in the Hall

Having class in the hallway, the library and the boys’ locker room may not be normal. But being back in school feels good, teachers and students at Republic Elementary III said Monday.

“We have a bigger room now than we had before,” said teacher Renee Doubleday. “And we have a window now.” Principal Cindy Crabtree said the staff was upbeat and cooperative as everyone at the school — damaged by a tornado Jan. 7 — made adjustments to return to the school Monday. They had missed two days of school and held classes for two days at a nearby church. Crabtree pointed to a makeshift wall put up to block access to the school’s west wing, left soaked and roofless by the twister.

“Attitude” was written in dancing letters along the divider, and smiling suns dotting the area made it clear what kind of attitude was expected. “Only elementary teachers would take a temporary wall and decorate it,” she said with a grin. “My staff has made this incredibly easy.” The two hallways in the school’s west wing are dark. Ceiling tiles are gone, and floor tiles are popping up after a week of drying out with 44 fans and 12 dehumidifiers.

The classrooms are piled up with desks, tables and bookcases that were rendered unusable by water that poured in through the open roof. “This is minor,” Crabtree said with an optimistic lilt. “It could have been much worse.” While she knows more damage keeps unfolding, she points out bright spots: reading books that were saved because a teacher had put them in a storage area that did not get wet, and a classroom where almost all the furniture escaped damage. Continue reading

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