September 19, 2005
Walk down the halls of North Augusta Elementary and you’d never know there are four new students brought out of devastation along the Gulf Coast to learn here. As News 12 shows you, they’re fitting in and the experience is making some re-think how much they miss home.
You can forget Nicholas Stewart feeling like a fish out of water.
“I was nervous, but I’ve gotten used to it now,” Nicholas said.
North Augusta Elementary feels like home to this fifth grader.
“I really wanna live here now,” Nicholas said.
His brother Patrick has already made up his mind. He says he’s learning in a nicer school than the one in Pass Christian, Mississippi so maybe that’s why. Or perhaps it’s because of one of his last memories there.
“When the hurricane went to hurricane five, I got really nervous I couldn’t even eat my breakfast,” Patrick said.
The boys say the teachers have really helped them get back on track with school. That is important, from a mother’s point of view.
“The education part to me is important,” said Lasean Crawford.
Lasean Crawford’s two boys are now enrolled at the elementary school. She and her husband will soon be deployed to their hometown New Orleans.
“I feel like they’re really in good hands. I can rest comfortably knowing they’ve been taken care of,” Crawford said.
And teaching these little bodies costs money. But with the Aiken County School District getting just over 20 students from the Gulf Coast, and four at North Augusta Elementary, the cost hasn’t been such a big deal.
Part of that, according to Principal Angela Burkhalter, is because of donations from the community.
“We’ve been able to absorb because we’ve gotten four, but when you look at the problem statewide and multiply that, it could have an impact financially,” Burkhalter said.
Principal Burkhalter says the goal is for an uninterrupted education. The students are getting textbooks, supplies and even counseling if they want it.
If you ask Nicholas, it’s almost a 10.
“9.5 because I can never rate nothing 10, so 9.5,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas and Patrick’s parents are looking at staying here for good. They have family here.
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking more than $2 billion from congress to help states that have accepted students like them.