CLEMENTS, Ala. (WHNT) - Two Limestone County schools that have been closed since last week's tornado will re-open Thursday. Students at Clements High School and Blue Springs Elementary School will return to the classroom. While this is a step closer to getting things back to normal, in the reality there is a new normal. Between those two schools, more than a hundred students are now homeless.
Thursday is expected to be an emotional day at both Blue Springs Elementary and Clements High School. We already know that 5 Clements students have notified the school saying they won't be coming back. Their homes were destroyed and their families have moved to other areas in order to find housing. While students will be back in class, books and lessons are not expected to be a priority.
"Let's start with the kids," said Dr. Tom Sisk, Superintendent of Limestone County Schools. "I think what they can look forward to is we're going to be warm and inviting. They're going to have good meals, we're going to spend time together. We're going to get our stories told, we're going to listen to those stories. We're going to start the process of healing, we're going to start the process of moving forward."
Sisk says part of the healing process is the sharing of the experience, and they plan to do that. Counselors will be on-hand at both schools in case they're needed but he says just returning to a normal schedule will help. And he wants the seniors at Clements High to know graduation is on schedule.
"It's going to happen, it's going to happen on time. We're going to work with them and do whatever is needed to get them across the field on graduation day," Sisk told WHNT News 19.
Workers have been busy at both schools cleaning up, checking all the systems and making certain the schools are ready. And then early Thursday morning they can turn their attention to the kids.
"People that have been around us know that's what we do, take care of kids. But we have to stop and take pause of what has happened. And I have to expand that. We're not just going to take care of the kids, we've got to take care of the whole family, and we're going to do the best we can and do that," Sisk said.
Between the two schools, some 106 students were left homeless by the tornados, and school officials say they're just not certain how many of them will be able to return to school Thursday.
Dr. Sisk tells us they have created a fund called Friends of Limestone County, for monetary donations that will be used to help students who need it, whether its a pair of shoes or medicine. The Lions Club has stepped up and offered to replace eyeglasses that the students may have lost in the storm. The bottom line is the schools are taking on an expanded role in the lives of these students because, as the superintendent says, we take care of kids.