Aplington-Parkersburg Superintendent Jon Thompson says, after the first two days of classes, students and teachers in the district seem to be adjusting to their new surroundings. The EF-5 tornado that hit northeast Iowa on May 25th destroyed the high school in Parkersburg.
High schoolers are now attending classes at a middle school, with 6th, 7th and 8th graders, in Aplington. Thompson says there are 40 more students in the building this year compared to last, so it’s not too crowded. "Now, the bodies are bigger than a kindergartner would have walking around, but there are not many more students in the building," Thompson added.
K through 5th grade students are attending classes at Parkersburg elementary. The tornado destroyed desks, computers, text books and many teacher’s lesson plans. Thompson says they’re still working to replace some of those items. "There’s a few things we’ll have to order yet, but for the most part, through donations and insurance coverage, we had everything students needed on the first day," Thompson said.
Two high school business classes and all of the 5th grade classes are taking place in portable buildings. Thompson says there were a host of things to think about this summer. "Everything from bussing, to coming up with parking spots for our students who were suddenly driving to school instead of being bussed here, organizing lunch room procedures…there was a lot to undertake and we’re proud of what we did to start school on time," Thompson said.
The tornado and flooding in June also caused major problems in nearby New Hartford. A school building in that town needed fresh paint, new floors and cabinets. Officials completed that work over a two-month period to start classes this week.
Dike-New Hartford and Aplington-Parkersburg will open the high school football season, playing each other in Dike, on August 29. The classroom portion of a new high school in Parkersburg is expected to be ready for students in 2009.