SPARKMAN, Ark. – As the sound of the school bell echoes the halls of Sparkman K through 12th Grade School, it’s more than just the start to the school year. For the Raiders, it’s the start of a new era. 

Stephanie Harmon has deep roots in Sparkman. She graduated from Sparkman High, is now a teacher there and has children who attended school at Sparkman.

“If the school goes the town goes,” Harmon said.

She has been a part of the fight to keep the school doors open after previous school board votes to close them. Principal Jennifer Page said their new approach will benefit kids.

“We get to bring back everybody, Kindergarten through 12th grade, we were able to join in a partnership with Arkansas Virtual Academy, and so this enabled us to host school here,” Page said.

Students in 7th through 12th grade attended school at Harmony Grove last year, but now can be back in Sparkman. Page said Raider pride runs deep in the town and they made it their own assignment to help keep it going.

“The school property is actually owned by a non-profit foundation that was created by the community,” Page said.

Not only has the community pitched in, but also school districts across the state. Everything inside the building has been donated or personally bought by staff with the goal of doing what they can for the kids.

“We’re able to offer them an education here in Sparkman, and to me that’s amazing,” Page said.

As students sat at their desks and walked the purple locker-filled halls, Harmon said Sparkman is a small town with a big heart.

“It’s a beautiful picture of what can be done with a little hard work and heart and we’re really thankful for all of it,” Harmon said.