It's Back To School For Velma Penny Elementary Students

Downstairs in the kitchen, cafeteria workers were getting sack lunches ready.  Upstairs, classes are in full session.

About a week ago, storm damage turned the hallways of Velma Penny Elementary to a sea of soaked ceiling tiles and insulation.   Nearly one week later, the halls of First United Methodist Church in Lindale were filled with boxes and backpacks.  Teachers and 3rd graders were making themselves at home in their temporary school.

"As I've asked them questions, there's have been, are we going to have P.E.?  Where are we going to have P.E.," said Mindy Osteen, a teacher at Velma Penny.  "So I said, we'll tour, we'll walk, and we'll see."

Thanks to the helping hands of East Texans, students and teachers alike are settling in, getting ready to get back to learning.   "The support from the community, and the outpouring and the outreach of people that we can't even mention has been incredible," said Salana Campbell, a teacher at Velma Penny.  Her co-teacher, Tanya Fulton said third graders in Van, TX purchased school supplies for their classroom, and Sunday School classes from Tyler and other places have called and donated items.  "We have been very well taken care of," she said.

It was lunchtime for the fourth graders over at Lindale's First Baptist Church.  The main office was up and running when we arrived, and the maintenance crew was setting up shop.  Overall, administrators said the transition has gone smoothly.  "School is going great on both campuses, at both churches, today," said Stan Surratt, superintendent of Lindale ISD.

Tom Buck, pastor of First Baptist of Lindale, said his goal is to make the students as comfortable as possible while they wait for their old school to be repaired.  And even though they're thankful for the space to learn and teach, they are still eager to get back to the school they know and love.  "We're pretty sure when we get to go back home, we're going to be like Dorothy--there's no place like home," said Fulton.

Layron Livingston, Reporting.