School Looks To Reopen Soon

April 7, 2006 – Posted at 4:52 p.m. CST

MARMADUKE, AR -- In a town where a number of its residents have lost everything, the Marmaduke School has functioned as a rallying point for its people. But after a week of not having school, students are wondering how they will finish the remainder of the year.

When school is out most kids spend the free time playing video games, watching television or just relaxing. However 15-year-old Sarah Henn has gone to work helping Marmaduke rebuild after Sunday's tornado.

"I like to help people and I wanted to pitch in," said Henn.

Henn, like most students, has enjoyed the time away from the classroom but is now wondering what the future of her school is after it was severely damaged.

"The students will be coming back to the Marmaduke School District ," said Superintendent Debbie Smith.

But after large portions of the roof were torn off and major structural damage occurred to some classrooms, the building is far from ready.

"We are going to be working around the clock to get that done as soon as possible so that we can get them back," said Smith.

To compensate for the damaged parts of the school district, Marmaduke is bringing in 14 modular classrooms which will house around 400 students. But before they can move them in they are going to have to haul and uproot several trees to make space.

"We are hoping that we can have our students back on campus in one and half to two week's, weather permitting," said Smith.

With students already missing a week of school and at least another week and a half, students and teachers are wondering if the days will have to be made up.

"I have formally requested a waiver for the amount of days that we have missed, but I haven't gotten an answer from the Department of Education," said Smith.

For now, other students like Henn will concentrate their efforts on cleanup, but will keep Marmaduke School close to their hearts.

"There are people that need all the help they can get and the school needs all the help they can get too," said Henn.

It's the upbeat helping attitude of her students that has Superintendent Smith convinced the Marmaduke School District will overcome.

"The best kids come from Marmaduke and I truly believe it," said Smith through tears.

The modular classrooms are being transported from Memphis and are expected to arrive early next week.

The public can make donations to the American Red Cross to aid tornado victims in Marmaduke by specifically earmarking the check as for "Marmaduke Tornado Relief." Those donations can be dropped off at the Jonesboro or Blytheville Chapters of the Red Cross or you can donate online at