ELKVIEW, W.Va. — Another step toward flood recovery is being marked at two Northern Kanawha County schools.
Teachers at Bridge and Clendenin Elementary, impacted by the June flood, began moving their classroom supplies into portable buildings Thursday and Friday.
“We’re excited to finally have our own space,” said Jessica Fitzwater, a 4th grade teacher at Clendenin.
The portables were installed on the Bridge parking lot after Clendenin was destroyed in the flood. Clendenin students have been sharing space at Bridge since the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
“It’s been a little rough on the staff,” said Melissa Huffman, a 3rd grade teacher at Bridge. “We’ve all been shoved in together. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think we’ve all come together pretty good as a team and put the kids first.”
Grades 3rd through 5th, plus two 2nd grade classes at both schools will be in the portables. The younger students, Pre-K through 2nd grade, will be housed at Bridge. Kanawha County school officials said that’s because they don’t want young children walking along the portables ramps, due to safety rules.
Huffman, one of the Bridge teachers who will be in the portables, said Clendenin is not the only one who lost its school. So did Bridge.
“We were a very close knit family and we’ve lost our school too. It’s been a little difficult for us to adjust to that knowing that we’re not going to have our little community school back,” Huffman said.
Teachers lost all of their school supplies in the flood. Groups like the Education Alliance have donated money to teachers so they can replenish their items.
“At the beginning of the year, we had to replenish everything, so a lot of things were donated to us,” Fitzwater said inside her classroom with a few desks and no decorations on the walls just yet. She said she’s excited to have her own classroom.
“I was with another teacher in a combined room, so we’re right across the hall. We plan on doing a lot of things together, but really excited to have our own space,” Fitzwater said.
Crowding has been an issue since combining the student body, said Chris Adkins, a 5th grade teacher at Bridge. He said they went from housing about 120 students to more than 300 in one school.
“Our school was built for about 120-150 students, so we did a great job,” Adkins said.
He’s looking forward to having a quieter space.
“Even though the kids adapted pretty well, it was still hard on them,” he said. “We had to raise our voices a lot just to be heard. Just having our own classroom — I think the kids will feel more like a regular classroom, a regular school.”
Students from both schools currently attend class on a full schedule. Just down the road at Elkview Middle School, it’s different. Flooded Herbert Hoover High School students are splitting the day with Elkview students.
Portables are also being installed on the Elkview parking lot. Those portables will house Hoover students.