Cloudland Elementary staff moves to new school

By Megan R. Harrell
STAR STAFF

   Nancy Turley hauled her rocking chair out of the mud that flooded her first grade classroom at Cloudland Elementary five years ago. Wearing fishing waders, she was determined to salvage all she could from the disaster. This week, Turley moved her rocking chair along with the rest of her supplies to the new Cloudland Elementary School.
   Cloudland students will be on Christmas vacation until Jan. 2. In their absence the faculty and staff are moving into their new school, located off U.S. Hwy. 19E. The old Cloudland facility has been operating partially closed since 1997 when a flash flood damaged the building.
   Mike Miller, principal at Cloudland Elementary, has prepared the students for the change by taking them on "classroom tours." Students and parents were able to tour and become aquatinted with the entire facility. "All the thrill for the kids this Christmas is the new school. It is not about what Santa is bringing," Turley said.
   The school was built to accommodate 450 students kindergarten through sixth grade. Fourth through sixth grades have been attending classes in Elk Park, N.C., and will reunite with the kindergarten through third grades that remained at Cloudland's flood damaged facility and in portable classrooms.
   "It will be so nice to have the students and faculty back together again. The teachers are very close. It has been like part of our family has been separated," Turley said.
   The new building will unite the cooking staff as well. Food was transported from Cloudland High School to the elementary school after flood waters damaged its kitchen. Students, faculty and staff will enjoy the simplicity of a fresh, hot meal from their new kitchen.
   The 6.8 million dollar facility is equipped with a geothermal heating and cooling system. It has a slanted metal roof that differs from most of the local schools' architecture. School and county officials are optimistic that each of the new structural aspects will cut operating costs in the future.
   "This is a state of the art facility that all the county is excited about, and are very fortunate to have it for the students," said Dallas Williams, Carter County Superintendent of Schools.
   A number of new features will improve the educational environment. Teachers will be able to take students to an auxiliary gym when inclement weather prevents an outside recess. Each room is equipped with a telephone system that helps teachers communicate with each other and the principal. Every two classrooms share a rest room, making them more accessible for the children.
   "It is a happy ending to a nightmare," Turley said. "Those kids that lived through the flood and lost family in it, deserve this school. I wish every kid in the county could have a school like this."
   The move to the new school was made possible by the help of all involved. "I would like to thank the teachers, staff, faculty, students and Cloudland High School students that have helped us move," Principal Miller said.