The school year is in full swing in West, Texas, and the teachers aren't sad to say goodbye to their summer vacation.
"It's really been exciting to get back into school, and also it's great to be back around staff and kids again," West High School Principal Wayne Leek said.
The town is still recovering from the devastating, April 13 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 and wounded hundreds more. Both the West high school and intermediate school were just a few blocks from the blast.
While the faces are familiar, the new West High School campus sits right next to the West Middle School. It was a huge task to make room for all the students, but now classes run smoothly in their hometown.
Even the smallest details help make these new surroundings familiar.
"The first day of school we had bells ringing in classrooms, for passing periods,” Leek said. “When you start to go through those things, you go, ‘You know what we're on our way. We're on our way to getting back to normal.’"
A lot of West Independent School District’s property is still under construction, and many students are attending class inside modular buildings. Officials say the portables could be reality for the next couple of years. Each structure can hold up to 10 classrooms.
Jan Hungate is the Director of Federal Programs for West ISD. She says the kids aren’t the only ones learning in the new temporary classrooms.
"Our kids have been the ones we've learned from,” she said.”They have been absolutely so strong, so resilient and when they got back to band camp, and two-a-days, and to cheerleader camp, and volleyball camp. You can tell they were ready to be back."
Over 65,000 feet of decking are used to help students walk between the portable structures, district officials say. The next addition to the campus will be the band hall.
Middle and high school students in West finished out the last academic year at nearby Connally School District.