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Students help tornado-ravaged town

Jake Tiffin, Sloan Sittason and Olivia Godsey, from left, members of Hartselle Junior High School's Pace Setters, assemble notebook binders for Flat Rock School students. | Clif Knight

Students at Flat Rock School in Jackson County won’t have to worry about school supplies when they return to classes later this month.

Everything they’ll need is being provided by “Relay for Relief,” a humanitarian project initiated by eighth graders at Hartselle Junior High School last May.

HJHS Pacesetters (eighth grade leaders) filled 155 backpacks with pencil boxes, Crayola crayons, scissors, markers, tablets, glue sticks, rulers, construction paper, notebooks, water bottles and other items in the school library on Wednesday. They will be picked up by a member of the Jackson County School Board on August 8 and distributed to Flat Rock students at an open house observance on Aug. 12. Taking part in that observance will be a group of HJHS Pacesetters, including some of those who will be entering ninth grade at Hartselle High School later this month.

In addition, classroom supplies for special projects are being provided based on requests received form the school’s teachers.  Included are dictionaries for each classroom.

“We asked the school’s teachers to give us a “dream list” of the supplies their students would need for the entire year,” said librarian Beth Rabb, project coordinator. “They were also invited to include supplies they needed for classroom projects.”

“With the money last year’s eighth grade class raised combined with the generous support of the state’s low bid school supplies wholesaler, we were able to purchase everything they requested,” she added. “Lisa King, one of our eighth grade teachers was instrumental in making that happen. She contacted Keven France, vice president of national accounts for Independent Stationers, who explained the need and asked for the company’s help.”

Subsequently, Independent Stationers donated the backpacks, gave the project a $1,500 purchase credit and committed to a $1,000 donation to Flat Rock School.

The “Relay for Relief” project was initiated by eighth graders who opted to do something constructive for victims of the April 27 tornadoes instead of participating in a class picnic at Sparkman Park.

The Flat Rock community was one of several in North Alabama that suffered damage from the April 27 tornadoes. However, it was not widely publicized.

“Every child who lives there was adversely affected in one way or another,” Rabb stated. “Some families lost their homes and the homes of others were damaged. Even the school sustained some damage but is going to open on schedule.”

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