The first day of school Wednesday for children from Little Flower Catholic School also meant using a new building.
Little Flower was flooded and is unusable this school year, so preschoolers through fifth-graders are attending classes at Bishop Ryan High School.
"The rooms are a nice size," said first-grade teacher JoAnn Randall, who said her classroom actually feels a little larger than her one at Little Flower.
Children at Little Flower Catholic School are attending classes at Bishop Ryan High School this year because Little Flower was flooded. Wednesday was the first day of school for the Minot Catholic Schools.
The six classrooms being used by the elementary, all along one hallway in the south wing of the building, were formerly used as high school classes. School lockers that line the hallway outside the repurposed classrooms are now filled with children's backpacks, crayons and markers instead of the biology and algebra textbooks that filled them last year. High school classes and programs were moved to different areas in the school. The preschool class is located in the sixth grade wing, which has a separate entrance and access to bathrooms.
Preschool through grade 12 is now under one roof for the first time in many years.
There isn't playground equipment at Ryan, but there is grass on either side of the building and Hogan Field, the school's athletic field, on a hill behind the school.
Randall and second-grade teacher Anne Gregory said the children played outside the school during one recess break on Wednesday and the teachers took them to Hogan Field for their noon recess.
"The kids were pretty tired when we got back," said Randall.
Gregory said the field is uphill, meaning the kids and their teachers got a workout.
New principal Mary Hemphill said about a third of the students, as well as about a third of the staff, were displaced by the flood. Teachers discussed the importance of taking care of one another and of their students during the teacher inservice before classes started. Luckily, the staff was able to save most classroom materials from the flooded building, so they were able to set up their rooms at Ryan, but it's still an adjustment to set up a new classroom in a new building, said Hemphill.
Gregory said she has a few students in her class who were displaced by the flood, but she didn't bring it up with them on Wednesday. Wednesday was a getting to know you, fun day for her students. She said she will wait to discuss it with the kids.
The children seemed happy to be back in school, playing with their friends. One second-grader said she's been waiting all summer to go back to school. Hemphill said she thinks most of the students feel like that after a summer blighted by the flooding. Hemphill and Gregory said a return to school and a normal routine will be good for the children.
Student enrollment is about where it was last year, but it's too early to say what the final numbers will look like, said Hemphill. She said 20 kindergarteners are registered, but 17 showed up for class Wednesday. Randall has 11 first-graders in her classroom while Gregory has 15 second-graders in her class. Two of Randall's students are new this year. Hemphill said there will likely be some students who start classes later. Little Flower secretary Jenny Steckler said enrollment is up a bit from last year, but the school might not see a final number until after the Minot Public Schools start school on Sept. 6.
Most schools in the area are starting classes this week or early next week. The Minot Public Schools was originally scheduled to start Aug. 24 but the start of classes was delayed until Sept. 6 because of this summer's flood.