ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email
ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - As the ribbon fell, applause and excitement greeted St. Martin school officials as they officially opened the doors of the brand new St. Martin High School.
"Katrina is officially over for us," said Superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker. "When the kids came into the building on Thursday for the first time, you just want to tear up."
After losing two buildings in Katrina, St. Martin scrambled to reopen by combining all the schools into the original high school building. Five years later, school officials say the Yellow Jackets have risen from the ashes.
"That Yellow Jacket up there as you drive up, that's our phoenix," said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Michael Van Winkle during the ceremony.
With new classes, more room and state of the art facilities, when the bell rings for class, students are actually excited to get started.
"It's awesome, we're really grateful to have it all. I was in the 6th grade with the hurricane hit so we were majorly affected we spent two years in trailers, just having this new school it's awesome," said Breanna Simmons who is a junior at St. Martin.
After the ribbon cutting, the high school was opened for tours. The new facility includes a courtyard, new gymnasium, labs, and art classrooms specially designed to take advantage of natural light.
"It's breathtaking, there's really no special words to describe it," said Simmons.
Teachers say they are especially excited for a new tourism course that will teach students every aspect of the tourism and hotel business.
The buildings will also serve as hurricane shelters in the event of emergencies. FEMA provided funding to ensure the facilities could withstand hurricane force winds.