The tornado caused significant damage to Prairie Creek Elementary School. Some classrooms in the building appear untouched, while others are destroyed. There is a lot of water on the floor as student artwork hangs on the walls.
Classes were canceled this week but will resume as the staff has finally set plans to get back to class Monday.
This week has been an emotional roller coaster for Prairie Creek faculty and staff members.
Erica Hicks is a 5th-grade teacher in the building. She has been at Prairie Creek for 12 years and calls it a home away from home. She says seeing the destruction caused by the twister was heart-wrenching.
“It was really emotional just to see the row of homes and just go, ‘I know who lives in every one of those houses.’ Then to see Prairie Creek just boarded up and glass everywhere. It was really emotional,” Hicks said.
The staff has one question in mind this week.
“What can we do to make these last two weeks just awesome for these kids?” Hicks asked.
Staff worked all week to find a way to keep the school going. An answer was finally found.
On Monday, roughly 500 students will return to class. Spread out across five buildings.
“They’ll come back to the same group of kids, their same teacher just in a different location,” said Brett White, Superintendent of Andover Public Schools. “The staff is excited. They’re planning some amazing memories and opportunities for the students.”
A huge relief for parents.
“It’s been hectic. You know, a lot of us that have worked full time we’ve had to take off work just to be home with the kids,” said Andrew Plebiak, parent of a Pre-K student. “I’m glad that they got something worked out for us.”
The generosity of the community and the willpower of the staff brought a ray of hope after a tough week.
“Prairie Creek is a community. And you know, I tell these kids, you’re my kids, you’re my kids forever, I love you, and you’re stuck with me. And so just giving them that chance to come back together and see each other and know that they’re all OK,” Hicks said. “It’ll be like Christmas morning, getting to see the kids again.”
Logistics are still being worked out for Monday regarding food and transportation. As for the building, the amount for the damage is still being totaled.