Storm damage leads Lewis students to finish year at middle school

By Gus Bode

While construction crews repair the roof of Lewis School damaged by the May 8 storm, the 235 displaced students have taken refuge in Carbondale Middle School.

Winds reaching speeds up to 106 miles per hour ripped the roof off the older section of Lewis School and caused other structural and water damage, said John Hoke, head of maintenance for Carbondale Elementary School District 95. The eight damaged classrooms were built in 1965, he said.

Assistant Superintendent John Williams said Tuesday he did not have any estimates for the repair costs. Contractors are making temporary repairs until a more permanent arrangement is made, he said.

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Williams said the school year would extend to June 5, which is one day longer than the original school calendar. He said five emergency days are built into the school calendar. Classes were canceled for five days after the storm and four emergency days were used following the ice storm in February. Williams said the four days not built into the school year would be counted as ‘Act of God Days.’

Principal Chuck Goforth of Carbondale Middle School said taking in the Lewis students has meant changes for his staff, but things could not have gone better considering the circumstances.

‘The Lewis staff, despite being uprooted and having to move things, have done a tremendous job in adjusting and making the transition,’ he said.

Goforth said the middle school faculty has made their own adjustments. In some cases that meant giving up classrooms so Lewis School students could have space until the end of the school year.

Goforth said the middle school’s hallway for music, industrial technology, art and other encore classes has been transformed into classrooms for Lewis School. The regular classes have been moved to other parts of the building.

Lewis School Principal Stephen Douglas said the relocation has put meaning to the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’

‘We had to be accepted where we were going, and I can’t say enough positive about the attitudes of the people at the middle school starting with the administration and working down towards the teachers,’ he said.

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Both principals said this has been a positive experience in the sense that teachers from the two schools have gotten to know one another better.

Damage to Lewis School was severe, but no one was injured. Douglas said students were to be released early on May 8 for a school improvement day. Although a tornado warning prevented school officials from releasing students at the previously scheduled time, he said students and most of the staff were out of the building when the roof peeled back.

‘We were extremely fortunate that no children were present when it happened. Normally, they would be present at that time on a Friday,’ Williams said.

Daily Egyptian reporter Barton Lorimo can be reached at 536=3311 ext. 263 or [email protected]

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