Henryville school reopens after tornado


The difference from March 2 to now is very apparent. Henryville High School has been transformed from utter destruction into a practically new building. 

It's hard to forget the images of just a few months ago.  The school complex, which houses the elementary and Junior-Senior high school, was partially blown away.  Officials say about a third of the structure, including the gymnasium roof, was taken out by an EF-4 tornado. 

Several dozen students and staff had been dropped off at the school moments before the twister hit and were able to survive unscathed.  Much of the building was ripped to shreds, including the gymnasium, usually a safe place during storms.  Now, almost five months to the day, school is back in session again. 

"I think the first day of school is going to be a picture of a lot of little ants running in a lot of directions and a lot of bigger ants trying to get them to run in the right direction," said Dr. John Reed, the assistant superintendent.

Students have been split up in separate buildings in different towns during this rebuilding effort, so they'll need to get reacquainted in their new building. Students attended school in Scottsburg about 10 miles away during the rebuilding project.

This day, more than anything, serves as a symbol that, despite the killer tornado, this community has survived and is carrying on. 

The principal of the Henryville school calls it a miracle because, after just five months, students can call their school building home again.  A third of it has been rebuilt and the whole area cleaned up so any evidence of the tornadoes that ripped through this spring is gone.

"Everybody that I work with is very special and we all have a desire to educate our children," said Melinda Wright, who teaches second grade. "And the love that we have for them is the reason that we're here."

The $54-million construction project should have taken more than three times as long as it did.  But a crew of 300 has been working almost 24-7 since just days after the tornado struck.