Their classrooms look a lot nicer than they were expecting, according to sixth-graders Zach Keller, Julianne Schaefer and Hannah Heisler, all of whom returned to school last week at "Erik Ramstad at the Aud."
Erik Ramstad Middle School was flooded for up to a month, so middle school students are attending a makeshift school comprised of the auditorium and a warren of portable classrooms a few feet away in the parking lot. The start of school was delayed until Sept. 6 to give the district more time to set up the temporary facilities.
The sixth-grade students so far view it as a bit of an adventure. They have a bigger school and gym, they said, and aside from a long walk between buildings, it's a lot of fun. Zach, whose home was flooded too, said this is a renovation year for both his home and his school.
Andrea Johnson/MDN - - Teacher Tim Chell teaches sixth-graders in a portable classroom last week at Erik Ramstad Middle School in the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
It took a nearly heroic effort on the part of teachers and staff, all of whom were still busy in the first days of school, but the classrooms looked like classrooms and the auditorium felt like a school for the kids.
Signs directed visitors through the maze of hallways to the school office. In the first week of school, the intercom system had not yet been set up, so principal Jim Tschetter had to send messages in person or by e-mail to the different classrooms. Tschetter said it was also a little more challenging to supervise the students because of the size of the building, but the staff was adjusting.
In the gym, physical education students were playing volleyball in one half of the room and students were studying at lunchroom tables in the other half.
Kids have one set of textbooks to keep at home and another set of textbooks that are kept at school, though the lack of lockers means they have to haul notebooks, pencils and whatever else they need from class to class.
Tschetter said there won't be a tunnel between the building and the portable classrooms in the parking lot because the fire lane must be kept clear, so kids will have to go outside to get from building to building. Even when it's 30 below zero, he predicted that the sixth- and seventh-graders will try to race between buildings without jackets on because that's just what kids do.
At Longfellow Elementary, which also flooded, students are attending classes in portable classrooms set up on the school grounds. During the first week of school a breezeway was still under construction. It will eventually allow students to move from building to building and avoid the outdoors, said principal Tracey Lawson.
Lawson said it took working 16-hour days, but teachers and administrators turned the portable classrooms into a school. Parents were amazed when they saw how the classrooms had been transformed in the few days they had to work with, Lawson said.
Lawson said a temporary gymnasium and lunchroom will soon be constructed. Until then, he said, the children will take advantage of the nice weather and do activities outdoors or do light physical activities in their classrooms.
The students from the flooded schools are expected to be in their temporary quarters for about two years.
Children from flooded Lincoln Elementary are at First Presbyterian Church; students from Central Campus Plus are on the campus of the Quentin Burdick Job Corps Center and students from the Adult Learning Center and the Head Start are in portables at Jefferson Early Childhood Center.