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Smithville Students Start School Year Outside Tornado-Torn Town

By Sandra Knispel | Published 15 Aug 2011 10:58pm | comments
Smithville High School students are currently being taught at a temporary location in Becker.

It was back to school in Smithville yesterday, the town that was largely destroyed by a tornado in April. The community has made huge progress in its cleanup operations, as MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports, but students are not yet back in Smithville.

“It’s pretty much just a bunch of chalk boards and dividers set up in a bunch of little squares so we can have classrooms. It’s usually the cafeteria or gym area of the ALC.”

15-year-old Kim Flippo is an 11th grader at Smithville High School. On April 27th, her house was destroyed by the tornado. For the next two weeks, she and several hundred other students, grades seven through twelve, will be taught here at the Monroe County Advanced Learning Center in Becker that’s bursting at the seams. Six classes are taught simultaneously in the cafeteria. The ambient noise level is high, something that ninth grader Kyle Noe finds difficult to cope with:

“It’s really hard to concentrate.”

His house, just like Kim’s, was flattened by the tornado. Despite the fact that many Smithville students have lost their homes and spent the last four weeks of term in this temporary school facility with all its drawbacks, academic performance does not seem to have suffered, says high school principal Chad O’Brien.

“We got our test results back which we can’t release to the public just yet, but we’re very excited about those," O'Brien says. "We are very happy with what we achieved last year. We’ve still got some areas we’d like to improve on, but by and large we finished up strong last year and I feel we’ll have a strong academic year this year.”

By the end of August, Monroe County Schools Superintendent of Education Scott Cantrell hopes all students can move back to Smithville to 42 temporary classrooms.

“We’ll be moving furniture in those this coming weekend. Actually [they are] really nice classrooms, actually a little larger than what we’re used to, to be honest with you. So,  we’re excited about it. In think people will be surprised when they see how nice it really is.”

The final move back to the original Smithville school campus may take until December of 2012. Sandra Knispel, MPB News.








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