Benton Middle School to open doors Jan. 14, following deadly storms

Benton Middle School teacher loses classroom to heavy storms

BENTON, La. (KSLA) - Benton Middle School will re-open for students and faculty Tuesday, Jan. 14, after the school experienced heavy damage from heavy storms this past weekend.

Bossier Schools Public Liaison Sonja Bailes says teachers will be at school Monday for a faculty staff work day.

“We need to go over room reassignments, and scheduling and let our sixth grade teachers get into their classrooms which is going to be by the E-wing the modular building area,” she said.

They plan to do that to keep their sixth and seventh graders together at the middle school for the remainder of the school year.

Since the storm hit the school, they’ve had round the clock maintenance crews out here working on the school.

“When they got here, there was three to four feet of water in the sixth grade wing because not only was the roof peeled off like a sardine can, but then you had the water pouring in from the rain and also the fire sprinkler and also there was a burst water pipe," said Bailes. "So not only do you have the damage.. structural damage from that, but then you have the water damage to boot.”

She says there’s also so structural damage in their commons area and overall they had six classrooms, a professional classroom and rest room facilities damaged by the storms.

Principal Kyle Machen says he got the call about the damage in the middle of the night Saturday and is grateful for all of the work that’s been done so far.

“(I’m) really just been overwhelmed by one the efficiency of our maintenance department and the contractors, but then just the generosity and concerned expressed by our community,” he said.

Lisa Thompson currently teaches sixth grade students at the school and overall has been teaching here for nearly 15 years.

Benton Middle School teacher talks about damage to school

“My children went here and I’ve seen this school grow from where I’ve known every child that came through sixth grade to where I only know about a third of them,” she said.

She came up to the school shortly after the storms hit and says it was a devastating thing to see.

“When I came up here it looked like a bomb had gone off,” she said. “It was horrible to look at.”

Shannon Nugent also teaches sixth grade and lost her entire classroom to the storms.

“It’s extremely overwhelming,” she said. "I’ve been teaching for almost 18 years, and so it was 18 years worth of items, and sentimental items, and things that I’ve just been working on. "

She says she bought several new things for her classroom over the break and was really excited to bring them in before everything happened.

“When I went in the room I lost it,” she said. “Then I just kind of thought ‘you know what it’s just a room. Learning can take place anywhere and we’re going to persevere.'”

A wall will be put up closing off the sixth grade wing to students and faculty while crews work to rebuild. The district says they should have it back up and ready to go in the next couple of months.

Bossier Schools is accepting donations to help teachers buy new school supplies. Checks can be made payable to Benton Middle School and mailed to 6140 Highway 3 in Benton. They can also be dropped off at the National Bank of Benton.

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