Community Pulls Up Its Sleeve To Relocate An Entire School

Volunteers, students and teachers in Lindale are rolling up their sleeves to pack up an entire school. You may remember Velma Penny Elementary School's roof collapsed during Tuesday afternoon's hail storm. Thursday, hundreds of Lindale residents gave time, money, and a lot of elbow grease in an incredible effort to literally divide the school into two local churches.

Every book, every binder, filing cabinets, lockers--all of it has to go.

"We're going to move a school in approximately three days," says Lindale Superintendent Stan Surratt.

Starting Monday morning, third and fourth graders at Velma Penny Elementary School won't be roaming their usual halls.  That's because Tuesday's hail storm proved too much for the school's roof and it collapsed.

Now, teachers are having to pack up and relocate their classrooms.  From "Aaron," to "Marylynn," to "Michael," each student gets their own box. For instance, Michael has pencils and folders inside his box. That's because it will not only serve as his locker, but his desk too.

"It's kind of overwhelming to have to do in this sort of fashion," says Gifted and Talented teacher Carmen Snow.

But what's making it less overwhelming is the outpouring from the Lindale community.

"Everyone has pulled together, the churches, the parents, our administrators have been wonderful, everybody has just come together to help," she says.

Two local churches, First Baptist and First Methodist, have opened their doors, providing makeshift classrooms.

Lunch for the teachers has been handed out by "D & H Cabinets," a local business.

"They do so much for our kids and for the community and we just thought we could do one small thing, show them how much we appreciate and love them," says employee Amy Thrasher.

Even fellow students, high schoolers and middle schoolers, on their day off, are at the church, putting together a teacher's classroom.

'It's fun and all being up here being up here with all of my friends, just moving stuff, helping, but the really fun part is helping out all the teachers and the students," says Lindale sixth-grader D.J. Williams.

It's a whole community that's putting in a little elbow grease to make sure their kids get the school they need and all in a day's work.

Lindale ISD is closed for the rest of the week. But it is back to school on Monday morning. Here's how that will work: third graders from Velma Penny Elementary will report to First Methodist Church in Lindale. And fourth graders will be at First Baptist Church. All other students should go to their regular campuses. Also, Lindale ISD will also meet with parents in the E.J. Moss auditorium, Friday night at six o'clock

As for the churches, these are two of Lindale's biggest churches and they refuse to be compensated. They're well funded, and their members say they are more than happy to open their doors to support the school.

The second Lindale school damaged, E.J. Moss Intermediate is also being worked on.  Crews are replacing tiles, drying out the carpet, and putting on a temporary roof. They're expected to work 24 hours a day this weekend so school can be held at Moss Intermediate Monday morning.

Tracy Watler, Reporting