TIMES of adversity often provide us with opportunities to overcome different obstacles and realise our true resilience – as individuals and communities.
That’s one of the lessons students from St Helens State School will take away this year after the school was inundated by severe flooding in Maryborough towards the end February.
The school – perched alongside Saltwater Creek Road – was forced to close its doors for several weeks after floodwaters from the Mary River damaged about 10 classrooms, the hall, library, tuckshop and a multi-purpose court.
The flood, the second to strike the Heritage City in less than two months, meant 2022 got off to what can only be described as ‘a less than favourable start’ at St Helens.
February’s weather event could easily have been one too many in such a short space of time and derailed the entire academic year.
But thanks to the hard work and dedication from staff, students and the Maryborough school community, children were able to walk through the gates again when the bell rang at the beginning of Term 2.
To ensure teaching continued while the floodwaters subsided and repair work was underway, St Helens Principal Kim Burns-Atkinson said students and staff joined their new friends at Maryborough West State School the rest of the first term.
“We can’t thank the Maryborough West staff, students and school community enough. They were all so accommodating; nothing was too much trouble and it was wonderful to be able to have our students placed in classrooms with their regular teachers enabling learning to continue,” Ms Burns-Atkinson said.
“We took advantage of the time together, collaborated with colleagues at Maryborough West, shared ideas and completed our Term 3 planning together.”
FLOODING: Focus shifts from disaster to recovery
However, as exciting as their home away from home was, Ms Burns-Atkinson told Good News Fraser Coast staff and students were excited to return to St Helens.
“It is lovely to be back and it was wonderful to see students returning with big smiles on the first day of Term 2,” Ms Burns-Atkinson said.
But it was the staff and local community that jumped into action when the possible flood level became apparent that really impressed Ms Burns-Atkinson.
“School staff and Q-build were quick to act and saved resources prior to the school being flooded,” Ms Atkinson explained.
“Staff filled their own cars and trailers with student resources and took what they knew they would need to teach off site.
“The school community was very supportive and students showed amazing resilience as we transitioned the entire school to Maryborough West for the remainder of the term.”
In addition to the works carried out to refurbish classrooms and other facilities damaged by the flood, the tuckshop is being relocated to the hall area where an existing kitchen will be remodelled into a purpose-built tuckshop, including a cold room.
Ms Burns-Atkinson said the old tuckshop will be transformed into a meeting room.
In just a few weeks after the flooding, St Helens State School emerged as a beacon of positivity on the Fraser Coast.
We can overcome difficulty when working together, embracing the spirit of community, accepting help and believing that today might be tough but tomorrow can be better.
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