On their first day back at school on Wednesday, Irving Elementary students in Joplin, Mo. will get a new pair of shoes, a new backpack filled with school supplies, and an old school with a new nickname.
Irving was one of four school buildings completely destroyed by the May 22nd storm. To keep the students and faculty together, Joplin schools Superintendent C.J. Huff decided to moved them into an empty building that once housed another school called Washington Elementary.
Now, Irving has a new (unofficial) name – “Washington Irving” – cobbled together from the spirit of their old school and the history of their new building.
“For some of us, it feels like we’re coming home,” Irving Principal Debbie Fort said earlier this month.
During the summer, Fort and her teachers worked with groups of volunteers from across the country to prepare a new academic home for their students. They sorted Smart Boards and books, put down new carpet and concrete, and collected donations from strangers.
“It’s a temporary location for a couple of years for us, and we’re gonna make the best of it,” Fort said. “It’s gonna be a fabulous school.”
In the 19th century, Washington Irving wrote, “Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above it.”
Two-hundred years later, his words have new meaning at “Washington Irving” Elementary.
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