Local schools welcome evacuees

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – Many new families have come to Demopolis in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and many are bringing school-age children with them. In the midst of the chaos caused by evacuating and relocating, parents are still mindful of the necessity of having their children enrolled in school. Luckily, those families ended up in this community.

Area schools are reaching out with open arms to evacuee families. Many of the schools have personally taken on the responsibility of meeting students’ needs, but other are asking for community support in gathering necessary supplies for the new students.

Each of the Demopolis City Schools and West Alabama Preparatory have enrolled evacuee students, and each expects more students to arrive in the coming weeks.

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Westside Elementary School Principal Mary Glass said there are approximately seven evacuee students enrolled at the school.

Glass said those interested in donating supplies should check in weekly with the school to find out when new students have arrived. Donors will then be assigned to help a certain student get the materials they need.

Dr. Tony Speegle, principal of U.S. Jones Elementary School, said they will also be working on a case by case basis when taking school supply donations.

“If someone is interested in donating, they should contact the school,” Speegle said. The donor’s name will be added to a list of those who would like to help, and they will be contacted by the school when a new student arrives, he said.

Elementary schools aren’t the only ones taking in evacuee students. Demopolis Middle School and Demopolis High School have each enrolled students this week.

Dr. Isaac Espy, DHS principal, said they enrolled their sixth new student Thursday morning.

“They all seem very happy to be here,” Espy said. The new students have already begun getting involved in extracurricular activities and attending football games, he said.

DHS is taking care of all the supply needs of the new students, and Espy said there are vouchers available for families who need help in obtaining new school clothing.

At the start of next week, West Alabama Preparatory will have 15 to 20 new students, said Headmaster Lynn Compton.

WAP is also working to personally meet evacuee students’ needs, but they are happy to accept school supply donations from any one interested in helping. Students need basic supplies, such as book bags, lunch boxes, pencils and paper.

In an effort to give students every opportunity to receive an excellent education, WAP is enrolling the evacuee students at no charge. “We just want to give them a place to attend school,” Compton said.