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Call it a teachable moment.

Lincoln’s schools — along with most of the rest of the city — were spared the ravages of the floodwaters that swallowed towns and homes and farms across the state.

So they decided to help.

Lincoln Christian students spent a day of their spring break last week helping Ashland-area residents clean up.

A group of 40 students and staff cleared 120,000 pounds of debris from five of the hardest-hit homes along Horseshoe Lake, said Communications Director Jill Ballard.

Students also helped load the debris into garbage trucks. 

Cathedral of the Risen Christ, a small Catholic school along Sheridan Boulevard, decided to adopt Plattsmouth’s St. John the Baptist as its sister school, collecting $5,721 in one week for families affected by the flood.  

Pius X High School took a busload of students to Fremont on Saturday to help with recovery efforts.

The public schools chipped in, too, filling vans and trucks with bottled water and diapers and other essentials to send to the folks not so lucky as themselves.

Scott Middle School’s Kindness Club collected water and paper towels from staff and students to donate to the Salvation Army for flood relief.

The folks at Pound Middle School donated paper towels and Clorox wipes and bleach and other cleaning supplies.

Cavett Elementary School filled a U-Haul full of water and other household items, then —  encouraged by a Girl Scout member who attends the school — made friendship bracelets for the flood victims.

Kooser Elementary held a coin drive for the American Red Cross, and district departments — such as computer services — did their own donation drives.

Though the floodwaters damaged only a few schools, at least 60 were affected in some way. For many, students and staff were unable to get to school, others became command centers, shelters and donation centers.

North Bend Central Public Schools was the last to return to classes Wednesday.

Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt has said he’s willing to work with any school districts that have testing or instructional issues as a result of the flooding.

Because there’s a fairly large window for schools to take state-mandated tests, it appears most will still be able to administer those tests, said Nebraska Department of Education spokesman David Jespersen. All juniors are required to take the ACT, but there’s a built-in make-up date at the end of April that schools should be able to use.

Making sure schools get the minimum number of hours of instruction could be a bigger problem, but Jespersen said the commissioner is willing to work with those districts, which can file for a waiver of the requirements.

There also could be students eligible for free lunches if they’ve been displaced from their homes, Jespersen said. Those students are eligible for free lunches under the federal homeless education act, he said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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