New hope for an old school in Cross County - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

New hope for an old school in Cross County

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WYNNE, AR (KAIT)- The Cross County Historical Society is working to restore one of the few remaining schools of its kind in Arkansas.

The New Hope School was built in 1903 and started out as a one-room school only to later gain an additional room. For many this school is not just an old building, it is a piece of history that former students hope to one day tell to their grandkids.

"This school has little potbellied stoves and kids had to bring the wood in and some of the big boys built the fire," said Bridget Hart, chairman of the New Hope School restoration project."It is one of the very rare two room school in eastern Arkansas, I think there is only one more existing."

It's been a long time coming for the New Hope School restoration project but Hart said she is happy to see progress.

"It meant a lot to me, simply because I had a good friend who went to school out here, I had several friends who graduated with me in Wynne because this school only went to the 8th grade," she said.

Hart said she promised one of her friends that they would work on the project together but her friend died in 2002.

"I wanted to do this for them and I started in 2000," Hart explained."We started in 2007 gathering money for it and they started last year in October."

The project has three phases of construction made possible by the Arkansas Historic Preservation program and former students.

"We are on the second grant right now which is the second phase of the restoration so we should be finished by the first of 2015," Hart said. "This school is uniquely important to restoring a school because it has a cistern, many of the schools left don't have a cistern."

But it's not just about the building; it's about preserving a piece of history.

"We wanted to teach the children what a struggle it was for their great grandparents to attend school, it only went to the 8th grade," Hart said.

"It was important for a person to try to get an education but it was very difficult for them to do that."

The school will become a gift shop and welcome center for those traveling on Crowley's Ridge Parkway toward Village Creek State Park.

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