BENTON, La. (KSLA) — It was a big day at Benton Middle as classes resumed just days after severe weather caused extensive damage inside and outside the Bossier Parish school.
Now the huge task of repairs and rebuilding is underway in earnest.
It’s taken a herculean effort by dozens of maintenance workers and other crews to restore Benton Middle to some semblance of normalcy.
In fact, their new normal went off without a hitch.
And Bossier Parish School Board members got some good news during a special meeting Tuesday evening. An inspection of the damage determined that the walls in the damaged areas are still in good condition.
Insurance adjusters were expected to survey the damage for themselves Tuesday, four days after the storm tore through the school’s sixth-grade wing about 1 a.m. Saturday.
About half of the nearly 400 sixth-graders now are in temporary and modular buildings, where they will have classes for the remainder of the year.
To the uninitiated eye, the students’ first day back may have looked like a typical morning at the school.
Damaged areas now are walled off; and classrooms have been moved to other parts of the school.
Students told KSLA News 12 that they feel lucky the storm didn’t hit during school hours.
“Desks would have been probably flying everywhere. And, like the water from the pipes that busted. A lot of people would have been hurt,” sixth-grader Baylor Bass opined.
He explained that classroom location is not what’s important to them, especially compared to what’s truly important.
“About who you’re with and what we’re learning and what teacher we have," Bass said. "And I really believe that all the teachers are amazing, and I love them.”
Friend and fellow sixth-grader Tiffany Fort said the situation almost didn’t seem real until she saw the damage for herself.
“My heart just stopped. And I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh'."
Fort and other students take it as an article of faith that everything happens for a reason.
"If we have more than one person trying to fix, it it’s all going to work out fine because God has a plan. And His plan will always work.”
Donations have been pouring in at Benton Middle to help replenish all the supplies and other materials lost in the storm.
In fact, a contingent of supporters from W.T. Lewis Elementary School in Bossier City arrived Monday with $2,000 in donations raised in a jeans day event that day.
Fifth-grader Sophie Stinson had the honor of handing over that check during the visit.
School staffers also told KSLA News 12 that they are very grateful to the community for their outpouring of support.
As for what other needs Benton Middle may have, school officials said that they’re assessing that right now and that perhaps the best donation at the moment would be cash.
Checks can be made payable to Benton Middle School. They then can be:
- mailed to Benton Middle School, 6140 Louisiana Highway 3, Benton, LA 71006, or,
- dropped off at First National Bank of Benton, according to Bossier School District.