Marmaduke School District Back In Class

April 26, 2006--Posted at 5:00 p.m. CST

MARMADUKE, AR--It wasn't an ordinary Wednesday for the students of theMarmaduke School District.

"Got to go back to school," said student Casey Lowe.

Casey Lowe and over 800 students from the Marmaduke School District returned to the classroom Wednesday for the first time since April 2nd's tornado.

"It's just like the first day of school," said Lowe.

"The damage is extensive across the community, but we are so thankful that we have all of our students," said Marmaduke Superintendent Debbie Smith.

After missing 17 days of school, staff, students and especially parents were glad to hear the school bell ring.

"Oh my God, I have three. I am ready to go back to school.  I have three boys, so we are ready," said parent Diamond Lowe.

Although these students have grown up attending class at the Marmaduke School, for them the first day back was like being in a different world.

"It's weird. It looks different," said Casey Lowe.

However, the most talked about topic of the day were student's recollections on how they dealt with the storm.

"We were holding hands, praising God, and we are just blessed that we are all still alive," said one 1st grader.

The Marmaduke School District has a long standing tradition of having all their school events here in Marmaduke, however, after April 2nd's tornado they were forced to make some changes.
"The Rector Community Center is now the home of the Junior-Senior Prom. Graduation will be held in the ASU Convocation Center this year," said Smith.

For a school district that has student's who now live throughout the region, Wednesday was a chance for them to return to a school building that has become the symbol for Marmaduke. And for the first time since April 2nd a unified student body rallied together and sang school's Alma Mater.

"They sang it in a way I haven't heard them sing it in a long time. You could just tell that Greyhound pride is back at Marmaduke," said Smith.     

The school has submitted a request to the State Board of Education for a waiver on the 17 days missed. The board will hear the request on May 8th; however, the staff is approaching the situation under the assumption that the days won't have to be made up.