New hope for an old school in Cross County

WYNNE, AR (KAIT)- The CrossCounty Historical Society is working to restore one of the few remainingschools of its kind in Arkansas.

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

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

It's been along 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 agood friend who went to school out here, I had several friends who graduatedwith me in Wynne because this school only went to the 8th grade," she said.

Hart saidshe promised one of her friends that they would work on the project togetherbut her friend died in 2002.

"I wanted to do this for them and I started in2000," Hart explained."We startedin 2007 gathering money for it and they started last year in October."

The projecthas three phases of construction made possible by the Arkansas HistoricPreservation program and former students.

"We are on the second grant right now which isthe second phase of the restoration so we should be finished by the first of2015," Hart said. "This schoolis uniquely important to restoring a school because it has a cistern, many ofthe schools left don't have a cistern."

But it's notjust about the building; it's about preserving a piece of history.

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

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

The schoolwill become a gift shop and welcome center for those traveling on Crowley'sRidge Parkway toward Village Creek State Park.

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