LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – When Hurricane Matthew finally blew through Robeson County a few months ago, it left not only homes but many schools damaged–some so badly that students could not return.
That left students and staff at Lumberton Jr. High School with many new and much younger classmates–and a need for leaders to step up and help.
“Everybody was just coming together,” said Javin McRae, 13. McRae said he was proud of the way his community and school responded in the wake of the hurricane.
“Instead of being separated, everyone was just together,” McRae recalled.
Residents in Lumberton were not prepared for just how destructive the storm would be. Robeson County students were out of class for nearly three weeks, returning just before Halloween.
“We knew our surrounding areas were greatly affected by the storm,” said Angela Faulkner, principal of Lumberton Jr. High.
Faulkner said getting her students back in class was one thing; it was another helping them deal with what they had been through.
“The first thing we wanted to do that week was just to allow them to talk about their experiences,” she said.
Faulkner said the school employed social workers to help students deal with what in some cases were traumatic events.
“For some, they really couldn’t explain it because they’d never seen anything of that nature,” recalled Faulkner.
In addition to dealing with what they had been through, students and staff had an extra challenge: welcoming students from West Lumberton Elementary School, whose own building was too damaged by flood waters to be used this school year.
“It was exciting; it was different,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner said even she was surprised at how quickly her students adjusted to their new schoolmates.
“One would think that maybe two schools could not exist on one campus but it actually works!”
She said it would not be possible without student leaders on campus, like the members of Beta Club on hand at Monday’s Robeson County Commissioner’s meeting.
“That is something we pride ourselves on because they’re our tomorrow,” Faulkner explained.
Members of the Beta Club were honored by the Commissioners Monday for being leaders when their community needed it most.
Beta Club members are raising money to attend a conference in Greensboro, something Javin McRae said is very important to him.
“It’s important to be in Beta Club because you’ll learn to be a leader and not a follower,” he said.
Principal Faulkner said more than anything, Lumberton Jr. High needs volunteers to give time at their school. To volunteer, contact Lumberton Jr. High School at (910) 735-2108.