Special Reports

May 28, 2007

Greensburg to open K-12 school by August

Darin Headrick, Greensburg school district superintendent, appreciates all the supplies people want to send to help his students and teachers.

Darin Headrick, Greensburg school district superintendent, appreciates all the supplies people want to send to help his students and teachers.

But he wants them to hold on to the books and supplies a bit longer. There isn't anywhere to put stuff.

"Now just be patient and let us get some space and then send things," he said.

Although the district lost all of its school buildings in the May 4 tornado, Headrick vows to be ready for the first day of class -- Aug. 15.

Headrick said that temporary buildings for 28 classrooms, four offices, a gym and a cafeteria are on their way and will be set up this summer. The K-12 school will be on the south side of town.

It's a piece of stability needed in a time of uncertainty, he said.

"As displaced as they are, we thought that we should establish school as quick as we can," he said.

The road to recovery for the school district started with the most basic of tasks -- where were the staff and students living after they were scattered by the tornado?

Now come the really big questions: How are we going to transport students to school? Provide food? Books? Tables? Chairs?

Most of those ultimately won't be a problem, Headrick said. The district is just "blessed that we have all of our kids and that they're alive.. "he said. "We'll just identify what we need and write a check."

A school is as important as a city hall or a post office to a town -- it's a cornerstone.

"Greensburg is no different than any other rural town," he said. "It's just like any community, a lot of what we do revolves around the activities that kids are in."

Help is coming to the Greensburg district from all corners of the Earth, said Denise Unruh, executive director of the South Central Community Foundation.

All of the proceeds donated to the Greensburg Future Fund are going toward rebuilding the town, including schools.

A committee will soon be formed to decide exactly how the money will be disbursed, Unruh said.

So far, about $250,000 has been raised. People from as far away as the Netherlands have sent donations.

A lot of help has come from schools, such as Middletown Middle School in Maryland.

Each year the school's eighth-grade students do a project with coins. They collect them for a couple of weeks, and then they sort them. Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Quarters.

Teacher Roger Adlon said they use the activities to teach a couple of math lessons.

And when they're done, they donate it. Last year it was $3,000 to India for tsunami relief. This year, it will be to Greensburg.

"It's something that recently happened, people are in need and it's education related," Adlon said.

The money will help. Headrick said that within a year, the district will break ground on a brick-and-mortar school building. He envisions the building fitting the town's new focus of being "green." If all goes well, it could be open in 2010.

And then the donated books and supplies will have a permanent place to stay.

"It's not the magnitude of generosity that matters," he said. "What's important is the magnitude of small things that help make life easier."

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