ELKVIEW, W.Va. — A year ago, the students, faculty and staff of Herbert Hoover High School began their classes at Elkview Middle School. After the June 2016 flood destroyed the institution, the Kanawha County Board of Education decided Elkview Middle needed to be shared, with the younger students holding classes in the morning and high schoolers having class in the afternoon.
What followed was a school year of rotating classes, sharing space and accomplishment.
On Monday, most of those people will begin another year of lessons, but not at Elkview Middle. Instead, classes will be held 20 feet away in portable classrooms.
Students and parents attended an open house Friday evening of the new school. The smell of lumber greeted those walking on the sheltered wooded pathway connecting 40 air-conditioned classrooms, multiple bathrooms and office space.
Similar classrooms were open at Bridge Elementary School in April for students of Clendenin Elementary, which was also destroyed in the June 2016 flood.
Herbert Hoover classes started a noon during the 2016-2017 school year, ending at 4:30 p.m. Daily schedules would alternate between “odd” and “even” days, with certain classes being held under certain schedules.
Elisha Westfall, who teaches biology and anatomy, said Herbert Hoover having its own building is a relief for both schools, especially because of the end of “odd” and “even” schedules.
“A lot of (the students) weren’t remembering things from the day before,” she said. “They were struggling with any homework that was assigned. If they missed a day, it’s like you kind of miss two classes. It was hard trying to get through all of the standards in that amount of time when you are only seeing them every other day.”
Junior Reagan Greear said as much as it was nice to sleep in, she will not miss having to share space with Elkview Middle students.
“They got all the lockers and we had to carry around all of our backpacks and all of our books,” she said. “Then, if they didn’t clean up their trash from lunch, then we had to pick it up.”
Junior Nicholas Hale shared a similar sentiment.
“It was just not a fun experience being there that year,” he noted.
The classes are divided by subjects, with most blocks containing only one type of classes. But Westfall said the space between teachers is only physical.
“There is a collaborative environment here in that you can cross subjects,” she said. “I have friends in the English department. I have friends in the math department. We all talk to each other.”
Principal Michael Kelley said both the students and staff are responsible for making Herbert Hoover a strong institution
“We get hit by this flood and this whole attitude we have of no excuses, high expectations and high achievement helped us get through all this,” he said. “These kids continued to have that attitude even though we kept facing these obstacles.”
That success was present in athletics; the boys’ basketball team played in its first state basketball championship tournament, the softball team won the Class AA state championship
Kelley said contractors will still be on campus for the first few weeks regarding the outdoor commons area and other systems. The school will continue sharing the Elkview Middle cafeteria and auditorium.
“There’s nothing absolutely essential barring us from starting school on Monday,” he said.
For Greear, her mind is already on what this year could have in store.
“Prom! I get to go to prom this year,” she exclaimed. “I’m excited. I love dances.”
A new permanent high school is scheduled to be built for the 2020-2021 school year.