KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A week after an EF2 tornado left millions of dollars in damage and a trail of destruction, students of North Central High School are adjusting to their new classrooms.
Students are attending the district’s old vocational school campus after the January 11th storm left their high school severely damaged. District officials said nearly 100 percent of the roof was ripped off and more than 30 buses were destroyed. Walls and windows were knocked out and rainwater flooded much of the school.
Insurance adjusters will help the district determine if the cost of repairs outweighs those of demolishing the current school and rebuilding.
“I would like to see them patch the holes,” senior Madison Dixon said. “I would like the old school back. I don’t like change.”
Other seniors, like Jared Chavez, want to see a new school built to better suit the needs of the growing district.
“It would be nice to have new technology and just an updated space for the number of kids that will be coming up through the high school,” he said.
The former ATEC campus is comprised of three buildings, which has proven confusing for some students, who say walking between buildings to go to different classes is something they’re still adjusting to.
“I expected it to be, honestly a little more chaotic, I think our students handled it very well,” Chavez said. “I did see a lot of people looking for classes and I got lost going from buildings and stuff.”
“It’s really different because there’s three different buildings and a lot of our classes are in different buildings so we have to walk around,” said junior Anna Garbade.
Because the buildings do not house a cafeteria, school lunches are brought in from elsewhere and students eat in classrooms.
“I liked the freedom of being able to eat with who I wanted to and spend time with friends,” Chavez said. “So that’s definitely been different.”
The loss of supplies has been supplemented by the community, which the district said has stepped up tremendously and shown its generosity. Still, some students said they feel bad for teachers who lost sentimental items in the storm that can’t be replaced.
“The first day was really sad coming back and seeing the teachers how sad they were but it was good for the teachers to see the students because we were trying our best to happy and positive for them,” Dixon said.
While many seniors remain disappointed they will not be able to finish out their senior year at North Central, they are grateful no one was inside the school when the storm hit. Surveillance video captured in different parts of the building shows the violence of the storm ripping ceiling tiles and posters from the wall while smashing through windows.
“I thank God for that, I think he had a hand in that,” Garbade said.
The district has a list of teacher supplies it is in need of on its website. Superintendent Shane Robbins said he has spoken with contractors and hopes to have the stadium demolition complete this spring, allowing for graduation to take place on the football field, as in years past.