School system seeing new faces

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2005

Children of Hurricane Katrina's evacuees have been offered a big helping hand from the Butler County School System.

"We want people to know that the schools are happy to help these children and are happy to have them," Butler County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney said. "These kids need stability right now and the opportunity to continue their education so they won't fall behind."

According to Looney, the school system has waived certain enrollment requirements for students, such as having birth certificates and social security card numbers.

"We realize that many of the people from the Gulf Coast region have lost these things or have had them destroyed in the storm," Looney said.

As of Friday, 13 children had enrolled into the school system from different areas along the Gulf Coast.

Free and reduced breakfasts and lunches will automatically be available to children who are evacuees. In addition, several community groups are donating money for school uniforms, books and other school supplies the new students will need. Even the bus routes will be changed.

"We're going to reroute the school buses to stop at the hotels and pick up these children for as long as it takes," Looney said. "We just need to know where to go."

Furthermore, Greenville High School has already planned a spaghetti dinner in the school cafeteria from 5 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8. Then, from 6 to 8 p.m., the gymnasium will be open for evacuees' children to have recreation time.

"Our Parent Involvement Committee came up with the idea for the spaghetti dinner because the school wanted people to know that we care and that we are trying to help those in need," Greenville High School Principal Dr. Kathy Murphy said. "Our students will be serving at the spaghetti dinner since so many want to help in any way they can."

According to Murphy, a Greenville High School Disaster Relief Fund has been set up to help any displaced students with school uniforms and school supplies they may need. Nine Parent Involvement Committee members donated over $650 to the fund, and they have challenged the rest of the faculty to help meet these children's needs.

"Any extra money from the Disaster Relief Fund will be given to the American Red Cross," Murphy said. "Plus, a small amount of money will be kept in this account in case of future disasters, just like Hurricane Katrina and Ivan. 100 percent of this donated money will be just for this cause and nothing else."

In addition to Thursday night's spaghetti dinner in the cafeteria, GHS will have 'Chip-in' days next Tuesday, Wed., and Thursday, Sept. 6-8. During their break time, students are invited to give up their snacks and 'chip' them into boxes which will be set up in the school's front lobby. These snacks and drinks will be put into bags and given out to families at Thursday night's spaghetti dinner.

"We want people to know that the school system is prepared to do whatever it takes to help these children," Supt. Looney said.