St. Martin School District Prepares Portable Classrooms

The St. Martin School District is taking another big step toward getting "back to normal."

Since the hurricane destroyed two of its schools, students have been attending class in "split sessions" at the high school. But that's about to change.

St. Martin is preparing a whole new campus in "portable buildings."  And the district is getting some help from a group of Georgia teenagers.

Teens from Crossroads Baptist Church in Noonan, Georgia normally spend their holiday break on a ski trip. This year they're helping St. Martin transition into 90 portable classrooms.

"I feel really good, sweating and all that stuff. It's good. I feel like I'm really doing something," said high school student, Nikki Smith.

"So, we've got all our students combined. Sixth graders over here, seventh graders over there. I think it's going to be great," said middle school principal, Michael Van Winkle.

Van Winkle says more classrooms, even in portable buildings, mean the return to a full day of instruction.

"Right now we're only getting 66 minutes a block, compared to 94 minutes a block. So, we're losing a lot of instructional time. So, our students need to be in school a lot longer and I'm sure the parents want them to be here a lot longer," he said.

"I've always wanted to go on missions, when I get older, to other countries. And I figure this is a good place to start you know, close to home," said teen volunteer, Justin Buckholtz.

Because St. Martin Middle and Upper Elementary schools sustained such significant hurricane damage, there's speculation in the district that the schools will not be re-built at the same location on Lemoyne Boulevard. But the assistant superintendent says no final decision has been made.

"We're still unsure of how the funding issues will play out, with FEMA and insurance and those kinds of things. But those issues are being discussed," said Dr. Barry Amacker.

Students will move into the new classrooms next Wednesday.

The visiting teens from Georgia are staying at Emanual Baptist Church in Ocean Springs. That church helped sponsor their visit, along with the "Community Care Network."