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NEWS: Education

Community Rallies To Support Mannford School Staff, Students After Fires

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School supplies pile up in the gym at Mannford High School. School supplies pile up in the gym at Mannford High School.
The school district also took a moment to recognize the fire departments that worked around the clock to put the wildfires out. The school district also took a moment to recognize the fire departments that worked around the clock to put the wildfires out.
Teachers are surprised with free concert tickets Monday in Mannford. Teachers are surprised with free concert tickets Monday in Mannford.
MANNFORD, Oklahoma -

Another school year begins Thursday in fire-scarred Mannford. And it brings a start totally unlike any other school year, with a new appreciation for family and friends and complete strangers for what it means to live in a small town, among Oklahoma's Own.

There's always a lot of excitement when school is about to begin. In Mannford, Monday was the first day back for teachers.

FEMA estimates wildfires earlier this month destroyed as many as 400 homes across the state with many of the losses in Creek County.

The fires impacted nearly 70 students in Creek County, many of whom attend Mannford Public Schools.

Now, the community is pulling behind those who lost so much.

"It's been really cool just to see the kindness and compassion that people have given towards our students in Mannford and to our staff members, who have lost those things in the fire," said Mannford Schools Superintendent Steve Waldvogel.

The donated school supplies were piled up in the gym Monday, and $12,000 in cash has come in.

The show of support is overwhelming to teacher Jamie Kleven, whose home burned to the ground.

"You know, I'm doing better than I expected to be. I really am. The community has been awesome. Just, the people here are wonderful, and I couldn't ask for a better community," Kleven said.

A local radio station gave each of the affected staff members a pair of free tickets to see country music stars Brad Paisley and Easton Corbin Thursday night. They'll ride in style to the show in a limo.

Mannford Schools staff member Connie Bunn said the support was much-needed during such a difficult time.

"You look at where your home was and it's not there, and you're trying to make a new life and trying to start over, but our memories are still there. And it's just a very emotional, trying time," Bunn said.

8/6/2012 Related Story: As Many As 47 Mannford Students Lost Their Homes To Wildfires

The school district also took a moment to recognize the fire departments that worked around the clock to put the wildfires out.

Mannford Schools staff members said they are ready to get to get back a bit of normal.

"For me, I am ready to come back. I'm ready to move forward. And I think it will be good for everybody," said staff member Janet Champlain.

They've gathered enough pens and pencils and notebooks in Mannford, now, that Superintendent Waldvogel says they'll be able to share the bounty with neighboring districts where children have also lost school supplies.

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