BATESVILLE, Miss. — Help has arrived for Batesville Elementary School teachers and students after a July 10 fire destroyed part of their school.
Thanks to the efforts of many in DeSoto County, it looks like school will start on time and Batesville teachers will have the materials they need.
In the conference room at Olive Branch High School, Principal Allyson Killough looks over a mountain of donated school supplies.
“We have some basic supplies like scissors, we have scissors that teachers would need and that students would need,” Killough said. “Pencils and crayons and composition notebooks …”
The classroom essentials are headed to Batesville, which is about 50 miles away.
The elementary school fire wiped out 17 classrooms, including a kindergarten wing, the cafeteria and the business office.
Also up in flames went thousands of dollars in teaching materials.
In most cases those items were purchased by the teachers themselves.
“To lose all of that means you’re not just losing something you may have bought a couple of months ago, but something you’ve held onto for 10 years in your career,” Killough said.
Donations by teachers and the public in DeSoto County will take some of the pressure off educators in Batesville as school prepares to open on August 6.
But Charles Beene, the assistant superintendent of South Panola School District, said the fire also means finding new classroom space for displaced students.
“We’ve had to move our kindergarten students to the middle school. They will be housed with the fourth-grade students but on a separate hall. We moved the fifth-grade students from the middle school to the junior high school. And they will be housed away from the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students,” Beene said.
Donated supplies will be stored in a vacant office on Batesville’s town square and passed out to teachers before school starts.
Killough said the disaster brought educators together in one common cause.
“We have a very kindred spirit in that we are educators, and we all have a common goal of helping our students,” she said.
Classroom supplies can be dropped off at Olive Branch High School, Lake Cormorant Middle School, Walls Elementary School, and Southaven High School.
Other locations are Goodman Oaks Church of Christ and Hernando City Hall.
Donations are also being accepted at the former Coker Heating and Air office on Batesville’s town square July 20 to 23 and July 27 to 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.