Pascagoula School District bounces back after Katrina

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – When Hurricane Katrina washed ashore five years ago, the storm damaged schools, destroyed books and left kids without a place to learn. The Pascagoula School District is rising from Katrina's shadow and back to educating kids.

Gautier Elementary teacher Cynthia Vaxter will never forget the day she saw what Hurricane Katrina did to her school.

"I walked in a room where I lost everything. All of my supplies were gone," Vaxter remembered.

When Sarah Lawrence thinks back to Katrina's aftermath, the Trent Lott Middle School teacher says she gets sad.

"It was hard losing everything in your home and then coming to work and lose everything here," Lawrence said.

In the Pascagoula School District alone, Hurricane Katrina's wind and water damaged 10 schools, destroyed two, and wiped out all the school busses. The damages topped $27 million.

Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich said the district didn't get discouraged; instead, the employees stayed focused on getting their kids back in school.

"We had trailers, classrooms that were gutted, air-condition systems had to replaced in all our schools. All our case work, all our desks had to be replaced," Rodolfich said.

The storm opened the door for new technology in the classrooms. The Pascagoula School District spent $4 million buying computers, software and interactive boards for the kids.

Teachers agree it feels great to have the kids back home with new gadgets and remodeled rooms. They said this comeback shows that anything is possible with a little team work and dedication.

Superintendent Rodolfich said five years after Katrina, the student population in the district has rebounded to around 7,000. Before the storm, it was 7,400.

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