Students return to tornado damaged school


Benjamin Martin Elementary School's campus was struck hard by the April 16 tornadoes that ripped through the Fayetteville area.

Students had to finish the last five weeks of the school year at temporary schools across town after part of the roof was ripped off the school and other buildings were damaged.

After four months of construction, crews were able to get the school finished in time for the new school year to start on Thursday.

Principal Crystal Brown said each of the four buildings that make up the school had gotten a facelift.

"Every single building in the school looks wonderful from top to bottom," she said. "Re-painted, of course, they've got new ceiling tiles in some cases new ceiling fans. Technology has been upgraded. It feels good. It feels really nice."

However, the tornadoes did more than just blow down part of the school; neighborhoods close to it were leveled.

Many teachers and students who used to live nearby have since moved away, which had an impact on enrollment this school year.

"Our enrollment has decreased," Brown said. "We were around 615 prior to the storm including our pre-K numbers. We don't have our pre-K numbers as of yet, but today we're hovering around the 480 mark."

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