Students return to school in tornado-damaged South Dakota town

BURKE, S.D. (AP) — Students are finally returning to school in a South Dakota town that was torn apart by a tornado early last month.

The Burke School District welcomed students back Wednesday after delaying the start of classes by two weeks as it dealt with heavy damage to part of its campus. The elementary side of the school building fared pretty well, but some of the middle and high school rooms were destroyed when winds of up to 100 mph (160 kph) blew through the town where a lumberyard was destroyed, a civic center was mangled and two people were injured on Aug. 6 .

“Everything might not be just perfect right away, but we’re ready,” Superintendent Erik Person said. “Teachers are excited to see the kids back. The kids are excited to be back. If everyone comes in with the right attitude, we’ll have a heck of a school year, because we’re ready and the kids are ready.”

For now, band and music classes will be held at the town’s churches. Administrative offices have been moved to a local hospital. And volleyball players will use the courts at a school district 30 minutes away, according to the Argus Leader .

The district will be back in its building completely by next school year, Person said. In the meantime, the district has enough resources to get the year going, and Person isn’t yet sure what other support is needed.

“Thank you for all the kindness and support we’ve gotten,” Person said. “Beyond that, we’re going to be OK. This is just kind of the way things work. You’re faced with adversity, and you lean on the people close to you – friends, neighbors and so forth – and you go to work and put it back together. And it kind of ends up OK.”

Officials will be weighing upgrades and additions as they develop a master plan to tie everything together, he said.

Categories: South Dakota News