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Hamshire-Fannett elementary students return to school
FANNETT - by Lauren Huet
Members of the PTA and staff greeted Hamshire-Fannett Elementary students with big smiles this morning and welcomed them back to school. Students missed seven class days since a fire forced the school to close.
"Good morning," said teachers and PTA members, as students hopped out of their parents' cars. "Welcome back!"
Thursday, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and life skills students came back to school. Parents dropped them off at a new drop-off point. The fire changed some things, but it didn't change the students' excitement for their school.
"Because I love my teacher Miss Davis," said second grader, Jillian Peddycoart.
"Because I just want to see my friends," said first grader, Felicity Belk.
"Well," paused first grader Cameron Meaux, "I'm going to miss sleeping."
Although Cameron will miss sleeping-in, parents say it's time to go back to school.
"It's good, it's good," said Amanda Meaux, Cameron's mom. "The kids were ready, he was excited, and as soon as we can get them back to their normal routine, and everything go back to normal for them, I think they'll be a lot better off."
Jillian's mom, Madeline Peddycoart, says it's a little different dropping the kids off after the fire.
"Kids are a little worried, and wondering where they're going for this, and where the music's going to be," said Peddycoart. "And I just said, everybody will show everybody where to go."
The PTA and staff helped parents navigate the new drop-off line. Some parents showed up about an hour before school began.
"Yes, they didn't really know what to expect, but Miss Reneau and the trustees had a great plan and put it all together, and it's being executed perfectly," said Felicity's mom and PTA member, Shelly Belk. "So, we're going to make it through it."
Principal Karen Reneau greeted her students by name.
"I've heard a lot of moms comment, [students] were worried about their teachers, they were worried about the staff, because they do think we live here. So, they were kind of wide-eyed when they saw us here to greet them this morning," said Principal Reneau.
Students heading back to parts of the school not damaged by the fire. The buildings also underwent air quality tests, and were thoroughly cleaned.
"I'm just glad it's all working out. That they're able to get them back to our school and not send them to China or anything like that," said Felicity Belk's dad, Jerry.
The long-term problem remains, what to do about the fire damage. When the time comes, many parents say they would like to see a new school built.
"This would be really hard to come back from as far as repairing this," said Shelly Belk. "So, I do, I really hope they build a new place for our kids. They're the ones who benefit the most and so whatever benefits the kids most is what we need to do."
Hamshire-Fannett ISD Superintendent Pamela Morris says finding a long-term solution is the next step.
"We're still looking and analyzing," said Superintendent Morris. "The insurance isn't through obviously, so at this point those are long-term plans. We have spent every bit of our time and energy right now on getting our kids back. So, we just really want to celebrate today."
Celebrating students and staff overcoming a fire and getting back to class. PTA and administrators say, thanks to overwhelming community support, teachers and students have new school supplies. The school received enough monetary donations for each teacher to receive a one-hundred dollar gift card to a teacher supply store.