Many schools stayed open through the winter storm weather this week, taking care of kids whose parents simply couldn't get to the school.
Center Point High School's principal Van Phillips says he called his wife within a couple of hours of the first snowflakes because he knew for the first time in his more than 30-year-career, he would be spending the night at school with students.
"About 1:30 p.m. they shut down the transportation of students on buses, and I had about 200 kids in the building. At that point, I was coming to the fact that I would not make it home," Phillips said.
Knowing that, Phillips and the 40 teachers and students who were stuck at school started figuring out how to fill the snowbound hours. They started by watching a movie and eating dinner prepared by the one cafeteria worker who hadn't been able to get out, then it was time to dance.
"We began to have the Wobble, the Cubit shuffle, the Kane Wayne, and a couple more dances, we had some instruction for them," Phillips said. "Then we played some board games with the kids. One teacher taught a lesson and then we got them tired and got them to bed, and the next morning we planned for the full day."
And what did they do for a bed? A couch, fou chairs pushed together, the carpet floor of a lecture hall were all part of the plan.
"If you walked in the classroom, you would've thought you were in somebody's classroom for a sleepover," Phillips said.
Two of the school's special needs teachers refused to leave until their students' parents could come and pick them up the next day.
"We love what we do or we wouldn't do it," Phillips said. "So no one thought it was an extra burden on us. I can speak for every principal in Jefferson County. We would rather have our kids in our building than out on the streets somewhere or in a car and couldn't get home or they got lost going home. So we welcome the opportunity to provide service at all times to the community that we serve."
Phillips says the students were great and they had no problems. They were able to get some extra blankets from Center Point's mayor out of leftover FEMA supplies and they already had some personal hygiene kits on hand for just such an occasion.
He says one lesson going forward is to have more blankets on hand at all times just in case the school becomes an emergency shelter again.
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