Fresh start for Arthur Richards

Maneuvering through blocks of yellow, students at Arthur Richards Jr. High School make their way to the classroom.

It’s the typical first day of school routine,only it’s happening in February.

“Today we have all of our students back in classes today we have brand new facilities as you’ve seen here. But without the support of our people, without our federal dollars, working in conjunction with our federal partners then of course none of this would be possible,” Raquel Berry-Benjamin, the Education Commissioner Nominee said.

On Monday February 11, the St. Croix school opened for the first time since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in September 2017. The impacts of the two category five storms came down hard on the school community. They had split sessions, unusable classrooms, and some even had to stop going to school.

“I have asthma and if I go there I’ll be sick,” Jahryan Barthlett, a 7thGrade, Arthur Richards Jr. High School said.

Barthlett couldn’t stay at the temporary school they placed him at because of a mold problem.

He wasn’t the only one to be excited to be in a clean, new classroom.

There are still signs around of just how much work when into getting this school back up and running.

To put it into perspective this is the first time students and teachers are back in their own schools since the storms hit over a year and a half ago.

They said they couldn’t be happier to have a place to call their own.

“I’m like “YES!” I am back home again. This is where I want to be,” Lurline Armstrong, a Math Teacher at Arthur Richards said.

Armstrong couldn’t wait to decorate her classroom over the weekend.

She’s been teaching at Arthur Richards for 31 years and said returning here this week, is like coming home.

“I love my students, I enjoy my community I am from Frederiksted and I truly enjoy being around the children, working with my staff members, working with my colleagues, it is just a different feeling when I am able to come back in my own space.”

Armstrong and other teachers here had to share a space with teachers at John H. Woodson Jr. High until work at Arthur Richards was completed this winter.

Now those teachers can make each modular classroom fit for their needs, whether it is math, social studies, or art.

“It feels good to be honest, because back in Woodson we never used to be able to do the cool stuff that we’re able to do now,” Synia James, a 7thGrader at Arthur Richards Jr. High School said.

The first day and a fresh start for Arthur Richards, giving hope to the next generation of learners.