During the early morning hours of Saturday, January 11th, devastating storms ripped through our region, causing incredible destruction that resulted in damaged homes, businesses and, tragically, loss of life. Our thoughts continue to be with those who mourn and rebuild.
Unfortunately, Benton Middle School was not left unscathed. Straight line winds estimated at nearly 110 miles per hour peeled the roof off of the 6th grade wing, resulting in the total loss of seven classrooms and ultimately displacing 10 teachers and approximately 200 students.
While we were fortunate the storms arrived overnight, sparing any physical threat to our students and teachers, the damage our school sustained was astounding. It was indeed a shock to see how destructive the weather can take a toll on a man-made structure, especially one in which so much time is spent creating wonderful memories and positively impacting the lives of so many. What was not surprising, however, was our community’s immediate response.
When word got out, everyone rallied, pitched in where they could, and remained grateful and prayerful to and for one another. Efforts began with first responders, who secured our campus, while the Bossier Parish School Board’s entire maintenance department worked tirelessly around the clock to salvage and restore operations. Soon to follow was a multitude of volunteers and community leaders ready to assist, support and guide. Private citizens, businesses, churches, and schools from within Bossier Parish as well as Caddo Parish immediately began fundraising and collecting supplies to aid our teachers and students. It was humbling to experience such an outpouring of support.
On behalf of the students and faculty of Benton Middle School, I want to thank you all for your generous donations and recent efforts. Because of your contributions and commitment to our storm recovery, we were able to continue to ensure our number one responsibility — the safety and security of all, as well as our number one priority — high levels of learning for all.
Together we give thanks for the protection of and continued blessings on our students and faculty. Though brick and mortar, computers and instructional materials were destroyed, those things can be replaced. What cannot be is people. At Benton Middle School, we will persevere and rise above this and future challenges we may face.
The resiliency of northwest Louisiana has been overwhelmingly impressive, and for that I am extremely grateful to live, work, worship and serve in what is undeniably the best community in the great state of Louisiana. Please accept our most sincere and heartfelt thanks!
Kyle Machen, Ed. D., Principal of Benton Middle School