Staff and students in two Lenoir County schools have stepped up to help their counterparts in Jones County schools bounce back from the devastating flood brought by Hurricane Florence.
Representatives of Pink Hill Elementary School on Monday delivered a check for $4,000 and boxes of school supplies to the principal and teachers of Trenton Elementary School, which was damaged beyond repair in the September storm.
Earlier this month, while their football teams battled on the field, students of Kinston and South Lenoir high schools set aside their intracounty rivalry to collect school supplies for Jones County students. Those too went to Trenton Elementary teachers and students.
“They are the ones who had the loss,” Pink Hill Elementary principal Lee Anne Hardy said Monday outside of Comfort Elementary School, where about half of Trenton Elementary’s teachers and students will be housed for the remainder of the school year.
The $4,000 check came from Pink Hill’s PTA and the supplies, from the school’s teachers and students and a church that partners with Pink Hill. The money will be divided among the 20 Trenton teachers “to order whatever they need for use in their classroom,” Hardy said.
“We greatly appreciate the help,” Trenton Elementary principal Holly Ball said. “These teachers essentially lost everything they had at school.”
Jones County students returned to class on Oct. 8, but Trenton Elementary students in pre-K through sixth grade went separate ways – 90 students to Comfort, 100 students to Pollocksville Elementary and 20 to Maysville Elementary.
“We’re using every nook and cranny,” said Ball, who held several positions with LCPS, including assistant principal at E.B. Frink Middle School in La Grange last school year, before being named the principal in Trenton.
Flooding from the hurricane left her school with as much as five feet of water inside. “We had water up over the teachers’ desks,” she said. “What made it really bad is that we were not able to get into the schools for a week and a half because the water was not receding fast enough. The only way to get there was by boat. By the time we got in, all the paper materials and the books had mold and were already mildewing, so there was really nothing they could get out.”
Diane Kinsey, a kindergarten teacher at Trenton Elementary for 13 years, said the flooding destroyed “all my resource material, all my testing stuff, all my books, all my decorations – everything I had collected over the years.”
She was excited to find among the supplies from Pink Hill a pack of “cornbread” paper – the brown, thick-ruled paper used by the youngest students as they learn to write. “If you want to teach some good writing, you need cornbread paper,” Kinsey said. “I’m really looking forward to going through the resources that have been provided for us.”
Donations gathered by Kinston High and South Lenoir students at the Oct. 2 football game in Kinston added about 800 items to the teachers’ supply closets.
Kinston High principal Kellan Bryant said the project grew out of students’ desire to help neighbors impacted by Florence. “I suggested we do something with South Lenoir,” she said. “We talked about neighboring counties and Jones County came up.”
The donation campaign was notable for the cooperation between students from the two schools, she said
“South Lenoir and Kinston High students worked together to accept donations of teacher and school supplies,” Kinston High principal Kellan Bryant said. “Both schools would like to thank the families and community for graciously donating to this event.”