CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last month's heavy floods might have postponed Verdunville Elementary School students' field trip to the Clay Center, but Thursday's sunny skies allowed them to finally immerse themselves in science.
About 30 preschoolers and kindergarteners scattered throughout the center's science galleries -- where they learned about body health, the value of composting and X-rays -- during a field trip the youngsters have talked about for nearly a month.
Heavy thunderstorms struck most of Southern West Virginia on March 15, causing many streams to flood and isolating several communities.
The elementary school in Logan County sits atop a hill, but the high water covered the roads leading up to the school. Parents and buses couldn't get to it, so about 45 students, along with teachers and staff members, prepared to spend the night inside the school.
A typical "early release day," when students leave school by 12:30 p.m., turned into keeping the kids calm and occupied, said pre-K teacher Debra Secrist. Most of the students didn't mind spending extra time at school with their friends, she said.
"The children realized we were at the school longer than normal, but they thought we were having a party," Secrist said. "We didn't tell them anything was wrong. We tried to stay as calm as we could, to not instill fear in them."
Secrist said she and other teachers played games, watched movies and popped popcorn to entertain the children.
The later the night got, though, students started questioning when they could go home. Children asked about bedtime and Secrist even rocked one boy to sleep.
Verdunville Elementary didn't lose power and had phone service throughout the day, which helped keep worried parents at ease, she said. Parents were able to talk to their children throughout the day using cellphones and school phones. Teachers fed students dinner in the cafeteria.