We are still standing, but not standing still

Published 8:25 am Saturday, October 7, 2017

By Rickie R. Harris

Like most Orange County school districts, West Orange – Cove CISD was hit by Hurricane Harvey. Not only did our campuses receive various degrees of damage, but our students and staff members were also impacted.

Two campuses suffered the brunt of our damage. North Early Learning Center sustained water intrusion in some areas. Remediation was quickly implemented and completed; and, the campus is now functioning normally. Additionally, we are currently repairing West Orange – Stark Middle School’s Carr Building and athletic wing (boys Gym). Classes taught in these two buildings have been relocated to other areas of the campus.

Not only were our buildings affected, but our students and staff members were struck as well. Many lost vehicles and/or homes. Many were displaced temporarily; others still are not in their homes. As a result, our school district’s enrollment is approximately 100 less than originally projected.

However, as Mustangs, we did not allow Hurricane Harvey to stop us from showing our school pride. Our football team and coaches helped our community by assisting in removing flood damaged property. They unloaded trucks filled with donated recovery supplies for the community. Administrators from Bonham ISD, along with my family and I, also cleaned and helped individual community members with clearing homes and remediation.

West Orange – Cove CISD also received an overwhelming response from educators and schools across the country that collected and sent school supplies, gift cards, cleaning materials, food, and other products. Another school district is raising money on-line. From this outpouring of caring, we connected non-school and home resources to our community. Sixth Street Community Church received these shipments, organized the items, and hosted the distribution of donations.

I would like to thank our community partners for their support and attendance at the Mustang Tailgate held at the first home football game. As always, we appreciate the support that Mustangs fans exhibit for our student athletes.

It is also important to recognize and thank our Board of Trustees for taking swift action in the days immediately following Hurricane Harvey and calling an emergency meeting in order to make sure that our staff received compensation while our schools were closed. Our Board has also approved a revised calendar. Adjustments have been made for six-weeks and in-service days; but, otherwise no additional days were added to the year. Please see our website to download the update: www.woccisd.net

For the past several years, our returning employees have been appreciated with a retention incentive that is typically awarded prior to the Thanksgiving holidays. Because so many are suffering personal losses now, we wanted to expedite the recognition. This past Thursday, we awarded all staff members who completed last school year with us and returned to the district this fall with their incentive. Our hope is that this appreciation will help them in their recovery process.

After Hurricane Harvey, West Orange – Cove CISD remains standing; but, we are not standing still. We are moving forward to help our students, as well as doing all that is possible to be an integral part of the recovery process for this community.

As contemporary author John Maxwell said, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

Go Mustangs!

Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD