(Aurora, Ind.) – During a drive through tornado-stricken Henryville last weekend, South Dearborn Middle School principal Todd Bowers couldn’t believe the devastation.
“There were whole trees uprooted, semi tractors rolled over, who buildings gone. Even houses that were still standing had baseball and golf ball sized holes in them from the hail,” said Bowers.
Classes have been cancelled at West Clark Community Schools all week. Henryville Junior-Senior High School and Henryville Elementary were heavily damaged in the 49-mile EF4 tornado that tore through southern Indiana last Friday.
Being an educator, one of Bowers’ first thoughts was how would the students get along in the tornado’s wake?
“Kids can’t get back into schools to get their bookbags, their pens, pencils, rulers, or calculators. These are things they need,” said Bowers.
This week, the South Dearborn Middle School Student Council has taken up the task of gathering school supplies to send to Henryville.
Items needed include pencils, paper, binders, backpacks, folders, calculators, and plastic totes and boxes. Donations are being taken at the school during regular school hours through 4:00 p.m. Friday.
“Anything a kid may need for school,” teacher Rand Ballart said.
So far, the response from the community has been overwhelming.
“It’s unbelievable. Mr. Bowers and I first thought we would load our trucks up and take stuff down. Now it’s become using an enclosed trailer and possibly a U-Haul,” said Ballart. “Our kids have been great. They don’t even know these kids (in Henryville) and they’re bringing stuff in.”
Meanwhile, administrators at West Clark Community Schools are in search of temporary classrooms for the 1,200 students affected.
Classroom computers and other items removed from the damaged schools are in storage for now.
The cost to repair the damaged schools has been estimated at $30 million. District officials hope to have them reopened by next fall.