BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington Middle School principal Terry Young saw the 5,000-pound burdens of a devastating past be picked up and carried away.
“It’s a sign of progress,” Young said Wednesday as the portable buildings that acted as temporary classrooms after Hurricane Harvey were taken away. “As long as they’re here, they will remind us where we’ve been.”
In the eight months since the Category 4 hurricane damaged the entire school district, repairs have been made allowing some of the district’s about 900 students to return to their regular classes, while others are still displaced.
All of the district’s campuses sustained water damage after air-conditioning units blew off the roofs during the August hurricane.
The middle school and high school students have moved from the portable buildings and temporary areas on campus to their schools.
After the repairs began, Young said, further delay occurred when asbestos was discovered in the floor tiles at both campuses.
Bloomington High School Principal Lina Moore said the campus has been carpeted.
The gymnasium, which is shared by the middle and high school, is still undergoing flooring construction, but a new slab has been installed, she said. The gym is between the two schools.
Although the repairs are not fully complete, district officials are celebrating how far they’ve come on their journey.
One celebration included more than 60 Placedo Elementary School kindergartners and first-grade girls reciting the Girl Scout Pledge in unison at Wednesday’s ceremony, where they received badges and certificates for completing the program.
Events such as the Girl Scout graduation are ways parents can see their child’s success and achievements and how far the school has come since the hurricane, said principal Carl Frisch.
The campus’s original school wing, which was built in the 1960s, is still blocked off, he said. Classes for about 170 students remain doubled up in the new wing.
Frisch expects his campus to be fully functional by the middle of May.
May is also a target date at the high school with the priority focused on repairing the Mabel E. Wyatt Auditorium before graduation. A drop ceiling was created so construction workers could repair the roof, Moore said.
She said the auditorium ceiling will no longer look like a “porcupine with pencils sticking out of it,” and the repairs are on track to be finished by the end of May.
“It feels like we are whole again,” she said. “It feels like we are a school again.”