Students Back In Class After Chouteau Flooding

Monday, May 11th 2009, 4:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

CHOUTEAU, OK -- Students in Chouteau are back in class. The district cancelled classes last Thursday and Friday because of damage from the flooding. The superintendent says it wasn't safe to have students inside the building.

Last week, teachers said they didn't know how they'd be able to finish the school year, but then several churches agreed to serve as temporary classrooms.

Elementary school teachers say their students have already learned three important lessons.

The first lesson after the flood -- class must go on.

"It was bad enough that we had water running in the doors," said Debbie Salmon, 4th grade teacher.

The rain devastated Chouteau's school building. The carpet was underwater and now mold is setting in.

"I have lived in Mayes County all of my life and I had never seen it like this before," said Salmon.

Restoration crews are hard at work repairing the damage, but the kids needed somewhere to study.

That's when a local church stepped up and offered to host all elementary school classes, until the end of the school year, if necessary.

"It's not perfect, but hey, most days aren't," said Salmon.

There's not a lot of room in the church. On a sunny day, Salmon has reading time outside.

"This is the first time I have had to leave my room, and teach outside of a classroom," said Salmon.

That's the second lesson after the flood -- use every available inch.

Dorthea Chupp is teaching her fourth graders in the attic, normally the A-V room above the church sanctuary.

"It's been fun. The kids have kind of rolled with the punches and it's kind of cool to be up here," said Dorthea Chupp, 4th grade teacher.

And fun, well, that's the third lesson.

The school building could re-open in a week, but nothing's set in stone.

"Class goes on," said Chupp.

A total of 300 elementary students are using First Baptist this week, while 700 middle and high school students are having classes in other nearby churches.