WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- After much debate, and an unprecedented move, the Hanes and Lowrance middle school students are back in class; but not on the same campus.
For the first time in years, students piled on school buses and headed home from the former Hill Middle School, which is now operating under the Hanes Magnet School name. There, the Hanes 7th and 8th graders are getting back to learning, while the Hanes 6th graders are at Smith Farms Elementary School and the Lowrance students are at Atkins High School.
This comes after many parents learned that the grounds which formerly housed the students were contaminated by toxic chemicals thanks to a plant which was formerly across from the campus on Indiana Avenue.
“We didn’t want them on the Hanes property at all,” said Tony Perkins, grandfather of a Hanes 7th grader. “That’s too big a risk.”
Many parents immediately withdrew their children; moving them to different schools throughout the county. At the time, many of the parents and students thought the moves may be permanent.
“When they came up with the idea of the new facility, we decided today was his first day back at Hanes,” said Dana Barnett, mother of a Hanes 7th grader.
This move came during a two-week period highlighted by wintry weather, which kept the students out of school on the majority of the days.
“A couple weeks of fun and frolicking in the snow, and now back to work,” Perkins said.
Believe it or not, many of the students were excited to get back to school (according to their parents).
“She was just thrilled to be at a place that felt safer,” said Jennifer Snowhite, mother of a Hanes 8th grader. “It was tough, but we got through it and we’re glad that she’s back with her teachers now.”
Next year, all of the Hanes students will be at the new campus, including the 6th graders. The Lowrance students will continue to be taught at Atkins High School.
We heard from some parents who believed, if they wanted their children to attend Hanes Middle School next year, they needed to get them back in class on the new campus within the week. Theo Helm, chief of staff for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system, says that is not the case and they will accept the students back at any time this year.