Back To School

March 6, 2006--Posted at 2:30 p.m. CST

WHEATLEY, AR--It was like the first day of school for students fromPalestine Wheatley Middle School as they adjusted to their new surroundings.

"Things have gone pretty well considering of course. The kids were a little excited this morning a little more talkative this morning than usual," said school principal Bobbie Fingers.

The school is using the old elementary school and the city's civic center to house 168 students displaced by last Monday's fire. A week later the fire was the first thing on students and teachers minds. Without a school building teachers, staff, and volunteers have put in overtime just to set up a facility capable of housing the school.

"They have been working really hard just to get desks chairs and materials for students to get started this week," said Fingers.

"We will probably stay here for the remainder of the school year," said Palestine Wheatley Superintendent John Manning.

In order to go back to school Monday the district had to receive supplies and equipment from nearby school districts and local businesses. In addition the school is without a number of books, bulletin boards, and they have no computers.

"What we had to do was salvage everything we could that wasn't in the burned area to come up with 168 desks," said Manning.

In addition to dealing with a school move students from Palestine Wheatley, like other students across the state, are keeping benchmark testing fresh in their minds.

"We are in the middle of benchmarks and we had to ask the Department of Education to give us an extension to start until next week to start because that was scheduled to start this week so they have worked so hard," said Manning.

Now that school is back in session what is next for the middle school?

"Our school board will have to make some massive decisions now and we will bring them together at the proper time and go from there," said Manning.

The school says they plan on buying more books this week but need other supplies to help finish out the year. If you have school supplies including computers, bulletin boards, or even office furniture you can donate please call the Palestine Wheatley School District.