St. Martin Students Still Waiting For New Classrooms

It's midday, and St. Martin High School students are finishing up their final classes. Over in the cafeteria, the Upper Elementary students are lining up for lunch and getting ready to start their school day.

"Good job Ryan. Eat all up bud", said Theresa Poelma.

Splitting shifts and sharing classrooms have been big adjustments for Poelma and her fourth graders.

"We have to be pretty creative. You got to keep them wanting to come to school in the afternoon, because they're tired. They don't want to do their work. It's been a big challenge for most of us I think", said Theresa Poelma.

Teachers and 1,300 students at the Upper Elementary and the Middle School will have to put up with the challenges a little while longer. Corps of Engineers contractors are scrambling to install all 80-portable classrooms. It's considered the largest project of its kind in Mississippi.

"We've had a couple, few days of rain, have halted the construction. So that adds on a little bit. Then there's, of course, we have to wait until the site dries enough to perform work. The contractor has worked as fast as humanly possible", said Cecil McClenan.

McClenan is the Construction Representative for the Corps of Engineers.

"We anticipate our teachers for the Upper Elementary to begin moving, setting up their classrooms as early as Monday. And towards the end of next week, the Middle school will be able to do the same", said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker.

That means Theresa Poelma will once again have a classroom to call her very own.

"It'll be wonderful. I mean it'll be just as good as giving us a new school, because it'll be our space. It'll be the kids' space. It'll be the best Christmas present we can get right now", said Poelma.

If all goes as planned, the St. Martin students will move into their new classrooms in January. School districts in Long Beach, Pascagoula and Harrison County are also waiting for their classrooms to be ready.

By: Trang Pham-Bui