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story.lead_photo.caption MEGAN DAVIS/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Three young girls find relaxation and recreation in the Noel Primary Library during the power outage on Tuesday. There may not have been electricity, but there were hushed giggles and conversation all around.

Those visiting Noel Primary and Noel Elementary Schools on Wednesday, Aug. 28, found the buildings with open windows and without electricity but with classrooms of excited students.

Following a devastating, straight-line windstorm overnight on Monday, power outages across Noel led to classes being canceled on Tuesday. The majority of homes and businesses in Noel were still without power Wednesday, but determined staff and students showed up to the school to continue lesson plans and learning.

Principal Deborah Pearson of Noel Primary noted that attendance appeared to be down but students that did attend were adapting well to the spontaneous "trip back in time."

"We've made do and the kids have done great," she said. "It's a historic event, holding school under these conditions."

Technological advancements that normally provide convenience and security created out-of-the-ordinary challenges for staff.

To enter the building through the office on a regular day, people must first "buzz" an alarm in front of a camera and receive approval from school staff before the door is electronically unlocked. Without power at the doorways, staff were situated just inside the entrance to vet visitors.

Maintenance staff mounted battery-powered spotlights along windowless hallways and inside restrooms to light high-traffic and hard-to-see areas. Resource officer Buck Owen also bestowed each student with a glow-in-the-dark necklace to provide a light-hearted source of personal light.

A number of morning classes at Noel Primary were held outside in order to take advantage of the cool weather and the dawn light. Early childhood classes created self-portraits in chalk on the asphalt, while kindergarten classes illustrated a community mural on the sidewalk. This also allowed students to utilize a different medium of writing and drawing -- chalk.

A strong sense of community and a bit of creativity ensured that students received breakfast and lunch despite the lack of kitchen capability on-site. Pineville schools supplied cereal, fruit and yogurt for breakfast in addition to making and delivering sack lunches for each student. With electricity still unavailable to most of Noel, these two meals removed a burden from many children's households without access to an oven, stove or consistent refrigeration.

In addition to the normal frustrations of a power outage, the technology-fueled classrooms of today were faced with unprecedented challenges. Smartboards and iPads were replaced with dry-erase boards, but electronic access to student information, attendance records and lunch account data was completely unavailable. Phone lines were also down.

The normal convenience of auto-flush toilets and motion-sensor sink faucets created the inconvenient innovation of flushing toilets with bucket water and students washing their hands in the manual sinks in classrooms.

"I've been on flush duty twice but we've gotten the job done," Pearson said, laughing.

Nonetheless, students were seen happily following their school-day routine with the addition of a few old-school adaptations.

"Students have enjoyed the experience and I hope they look back on the adventure fondly," Pearson said.

General News on 09/05/2019

Print Headline: Power Outage Creates Innovative Teaching

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