HOLMES COUNTY – Going back to school is never at the top of any child’s list and going back after a major catastrophic hurricane is especially hard.
For most students it is business as usual but for 21 children it is a whole new world. Those 21 students, now enrolled at Holmes County School District, are displaced from other districts after Hurricane Michael forced their families to move elsewhere.
HCSD faculty, staff and administration is doing everything they can to make the return as seamless as possible.
Superintendent Terry Mears says his faculty is working hard to identify students who may need extra assistance or simply need a little more comforting. The team of mental health counselors, teachers, and staff have been phenomenal, he said.
"I am so proud of my staff, faculty and community for coming together in the midst of devastation," said Mears. "Even though many had their own damages at home they came together for our students. That is dedication."
Mears said the 21 displaced students coupled with 42 other new students who have made the district their new home this school year has put some strain on expenses, however, he said it is nothing that the district cannot sustain.
"We have incurred extra expenses," said Mears. "But it is nothing that we can't handle. Our students' education and well-being are our number one priority, no matter the cost."
Bonifay K-8 Principal Rodd Jones says everyone seems to be adjusting well since returning.
"Our students are doing well since returning," said Jones. "We have tried to make things as normal as possible for them. Everyone seems to be adjusting."
Officials said they have not noticed any disruptions in the school day. Students at Holmes County High School appear to be comfortable with the flow of the day and carrying out regular tasks such as going to their lockers in between classes and scheduling time with teachers for help in various classes.
"This is definitely an adjustment period," said Mears. "We are doing our best to make the transition as easy as possible for our students."