Lafayette students ready to return to class Monday

Nearly 1,000 students in Lafayette will attend class in a new school Monday.
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Students from two Tippecanoe County schools damaged by Sunday's tornado return to classes for the first time in a week Monday, but at new locations.

Seventh- and eighth-grade Students from Southwestern Middle School will attend classes at Wea Ridge Middle School and sixth grade students at First Assembly Community Ministries.

Students from Mintonye Elementary will also use classrooms at the church.

Friday afternoon, teachers continued unpacking and getting everything ready for Monday morning.

Third-grader Madison Meihls was glad to help out.

"When I come in Monday, I can show (the other students) where to go because I've been through here and know all the rows," she said, pointing to the desks in her new classroom.

Susan Robey, a first-grade teacher, was working hard to make sure her new classroom resembled the old one as much as possible. Fortunately, she says her room was "relatively untouched," so she was able to recover everything from the desks and posters to clock, calendar and other items.

"It's very important for them to see things they know are theirs," she said.

Atop each of the desks were bags with students' names on them.

"These are their belongings," she said. "They'll put them away themselves when they come in Monday so it will give them a little ownership."

Parents, too, were eager to help out. Lisa Fitzmorris has a daughter in third grade. She also attends services at the church and teaches preschool there.

She said she's glad the church had the space to accommodate the extra students.

"My classroom had to be moved so the new kindergarten could go there, but it was fine and it did all work out," she said.

Kim Coffey, who's spent several days at the church said, "It's been an emotional week, a tough week."

She has two children displaced by the tornado and says it's important they feel at home in their new surroundings.

"It's just a mama's heart. We all want what's best for our kids, this is a new start in a church and you know what? There's no better place for my children than in God's hands," Coffey said.

Connie Harper, a teacher for 32 years said the support was incredible.

"This has been a disaster to our community but we are not down and out, we are going to survive," she said.

There will be an open house at the church Sunday from 1-3 pm to help students get acclimated to their new classrooms. There will also be an open house at Wea Ridge Middle School Sunday from 2-3 pm.

It's not known how long the students will attend classes in their temporary locations, but school officials say it will likely be six months to a year.