Mayflower, Vilonia students head back to class

FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Mayflower and Vilonia School Districts plan to ask the Arkansas Board of Education for waivers, so they won't have to extend class into mid-June. Class was cancelled last week to allow students, faculty and staff time to recover from the recent tornado. Both districts returned to school on Monday.

The students at Vilonia Primary are missing two of their favorite playmates on their first day back to class.

"It hurts to see them hurting," says school superintendent Frank Mitchell.

Third grader Cameron Smith and his brother, first grader Tyler were killed in the storm.

"I know you have rules about attendance and being on time, and a lot of other things like that. I hope a lot of our staff will be lenient and understand those situations," explains Mitchell.

Mitchell has been leading the district for 27 years and says this is one of the more emotionally trying times they've faced.

They've provided counseling for students.

As for making up missed days, Mitchell plans to draft a letter this week to the state board of education. Districts can apply for waivers if they miss more than 10 days. Between winter weather and the tornadoes, Vilonia has missed 13.

In nearby Mayflower, school is also back open. There with very few absences on Monday. Around 60 of the nearly 1,200 students in the district lost their homes. Five of those were Ms. Thacker's American History Class Monday morning.

"They are really honest," says Thacker. They are coming to us separately and we are providing backpacks and little details they need to be successful in the classroom."

The district says choir performances, awards assemblies, and some sporting activities will have to be rescheduled.

"It is all coming together. We only have four weeks of school left, so end of year craziness," explains Thacker.

As a way to honor and give back to the tornado victims, the Mayflower and Vilonia varsity baseball teams will meet Tuesday night at Dickey Stephens Park in North Little Rock for a special game. First pitch is at 5:30 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the survivors.


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