‘Happy to be back’: Adams returns
By Lorenzo Salinas
After nearly a year of being flooded out, waiting for repairs and moving staff and equipment back into the building, one elementary school in Port Arthur is ready to open its doors to students again.
Good to be back
Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Elementary School starts the school year along with the rest of the district Wednesday. It is an occasion that appeared to be well-received among many of its staff.
“It feels great. I’m enjoying being back and happy to be back home,” coach Brittany Johnson said.
Johnson was helping redecorate the school gymnasium, one of the areas that required the most extensive repairs.
She said that while she loved working with her supervisor at one of Adams’ temporary locations and letting students play outside, there was nothing like being back home and gearing up for the new school year.
“It’s wonderful to be home. I know some of the kids are very happy to be coming back,” third-grade math teacher Carlene Singleton said.
Singleton said hardships like Harvey have shown children to be incredibly resilient and to be able to learn much from the experience.
“This showed that if we could survive Harvey, we could survive anything,” Singleton said.
It has been a long road for a school that had received significant flood damage from Tropical Storm Harvey.
“The walls had to be cut out 3 to 4 feet and all the floors had to be redone, including the stage and gym,” principal Cheryl Tripplett said.
Some areas of the school had to have even higher levels cut out due to mold growing up the walls. Now, those same sections of wall have been stripped and replaced with brand new wall and tiles.
The roof needed to be fixed, as well, since there were leaks that included spots of the library. Now those areas have been repaired with new equipment and supplies being brought in.
Tripplett said there were still some touchups to be done throughout Adams, but that those touchups would be minor.
More kids returning
There were about 680 Adams students before Harvey; after Harvey, that number dropped to roughly 490.
“We’re expecting more,” Tripplett said. “Some of our students have already returned through registration and enrollment. We are sure we will have more students coming in.”
Adams’ faculty only lost one teacher due to Harvey complications. The school has filled that position.
After the storm, students were split and moved to two campuses: Booker T. Washington Elementary received pre-K through second grade and Dick Dowling Elementary received grades three through five.
However, Tripplett said there should not be any special need for helping students (and faculty) transition back to the Adams building.
“When we were split, we were still Adams operating as Adams on both campuses,” she said. “The only transition is being back in the building, which is the same building most of our students had been in before.
“We still had Adams teachers with Adams students. It won’t be a transition for us.”
Tripplett said the mission of the school remains the same — to provide a great learning experience for kids.
“Our mission is always the same,” Tripplett said. “Whether we’re at Adams or Dowling or Washington, we provide a quality education for our students.”
Among other features, there are two computer labs within the school with 50 computers in each.
Color-coded squares in each hallway designate a different set of grades. Green denotes grades pre-K through first; blue denotes grades two and three; and orange marks grades four and five.
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