Fargo-Moorhead students return to school in wake of floodingby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
School officials in Fargo-Moorhead are anxious for students to return to their classroom routine after being away for a week and a half because of flooding.
Fargo, N.D. — Nick Horner, 13, spent his first few days out of school stacking sandbags to prepare for a flood battle in his south Fargo neighborhood.
But since then, Horner has spent much of his time engaged in a different battle -- one with his Xbox in his parents' basement.
The seventh grader has enjoyed "just getting away from homework and school work for a little while."
But his mom, Anita Horner, sees things a bit differently, saying she's "definitely ready to get back to normal."
Horner is ready for her two younger children to return home from their grandparents' home, where they've stayed during the flood. And she's ready to get back to her job as a classroom aide at a nearby school.
It will be a while before things truly return to normal for students in Fargo, especially at Centennial Elementary school.
Centennial's principal Jeff Reznecheck says when hundreds of students return to this Fargo school, they'll be surrounded by reminders of the flood.
On the south end of the building is a nine-foot clay levee. On the north side of the school there's a muddy pit, 30 to 40 feet deep and two city blocks long. Workers dug up what used to be two soccer fields to build nearby dikes.
"This will be a symbol for them the rest of the year and into next year," Reznecheck said. "Centennial played a major role in our flood fight. We contributed not so much our personal resources, but our ground resources, to help protect the city."
Reznecheck is glad to have students back in class so they can be with their friends, and talk to their teachers about the flood.
It's up to school administrators to figure out how best to get students back on track academically after their time away.
Fargo Superintendent Rick Buresh admits with only two months left in the school year, greater focus will be required of students and teachers.
"What things are really critical. What things can be deferred, maybe dealt with a little less intensity, to make sure that we cover the critical things before the end of the year," Buresh said.
North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven is likely to sign a waiver so Fargo students won't have to make up the eight days they missed.
On the Minnesota side of the Red River, that's a decision left up to local school boards.
Superintendent Lynne Kovash will ask the Moorhead board to forgive the eight days her students missed.
"To have students end the year as we had determined, June 5," Kovash said. "Graduation set on the 7th, and last scheduled staff days would be the 8th and 9th."
Kovash said Moorhead students need to cram in a lot of studying in the final weeks of the school year to make up for lost time.
Students at Oak Grove Lutheran School, on the north side of Fargo, face an even bigger challenge. Their campus was inundated with flood waters after a levee breach.
Now 300 middle and high school students, along with their teachers, are settling into temporary classrooms in an old Fargo public school.
"I think our students will adapt very well," said Bruce Messelt, the school's president. "Our families will adapt very well, and our faculty have already starting adapting very well. It's a combination of a little bit of anxiety, a little bit of newness, excitement and a little bit of sadness for what we've gone through."
Messelt hopes his students can be back on their campus by next fall.
The question now for students in Fargo-Moorhead is the same one that hovers over all residents of the Red River Valley. Just as life is returning to normal, they wonder what will happen to their routines when the river crests again next week.
- Morning Edition, 04/06/2009, 7:45 a.m.