Shields Elementary School students returned to class Tuesday morning, but at a different building after tornadoes damaged their school Dec. 26.
After a tornado damaged the original school on West Ovilla Road, the district was forced to move students to the former Red Oak Junior High School, which had not been used as a school in four years. Nearly 2,000 volunteers pitched in, according to district spokeswoman Adi Bryant.
Crews performed mostly cosmetic work Sunday, but, earlier in the week, crews worked to lower sinks, water fountains and replace other restroom utilities to suit younger children.
In addition, the district upgraded or installed new technology in classrooms including Wi-Fi and adding projectors and whiteboards to each classroom. In all, 24 classrooms will be ready to go for the more than 500 students, Bryant said.
Monday night, the school hosted students and parents for an open house to showcase the facilities. Leaders from area churches held a prayer service at the school, as well.
Teachers were unable to being work setting up their classrooms much before Thursday due to other work in the building, according to Bryant. When they were able to begin, though, volunteers including family, friends and others were there. The district also paired each teacher with a teacher from the same grade from another district school in an effort to provide even more helpful resources.
“We just want a sense of normalcy in a not very normal situation,” Bryant said. “We’ve done so much work in a week’s time. We really think it’s going to pay off and we think our students are going to see that if they who up to the open house tomorrow night.”
In the library, an area where tremendous progress has been made, staff is waiting on a major donation of books. A public library closing its doors in Arkansas, offered the district their entire children’s collection, according to Bryant.
In addition, an outpouring of donations and support means each Shields on Live Oak student were given all new school supplies when they returned Tuesday.
It’s expected they’ll will remain at this facility only for a semester as the district expects to have the original Shields Elementary repaired and ready for classes again in August.