Mintonye students back in school building eight months after tornado

Back to school for one local school has a much deeper meaning than most as students return to a building for the first time in eight months after it was damaged by a tornado.

Eyewitness News went to Mintonye Elementary School in Tippecanoe County to document student's special first day.

For most students, the first day of school is all about fashion, photos and friends.

But, at Mintonye Elementary, Wednesday was about making a comeback.

"There's no place like home," said 4th grade teacher Sandy Fountain.

Eight months ago, a tornado tore through the area ripping out patches of the roof, blowing away the school's heating and cooling units and leaving a mess and debris behind.

The cleanup up effort started immediately, followed by repairs and renovations totaling $3 million.

"We also refurbished the floors, updated mechanical and electrical and made some technicality upgrades," said Sue Scott, spokesperson for the Tippecanoe School Corporation.

Photo: Mintonye Elementary School's entryway after repairs.

Fountain has taught at Mintonye for nearly 30 years. Eight months ago was the lowest low, but a lesson she hopes her students can learn and grow from.

" I hope they take from this that no matter how bad things get for them in their lives, things will get better," Fountain said.

Students were happy to return to their school.

"I really thought that's my school," said student Audrey Clevenger. "I'm going to learn in it this year. I don't have to go somewhere else to learn."

Meanwhile, at neighboring Southwestern Middle School, work continues with a anticipated $11 million in repairs which include some upgrades.

Its anticipated opening date is some time next semester.