BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Hurricane Katrina not only destroyed or heavily damaged thousands of homes on the Coast, it also affected schools like St. Stanislaus. The high school, which was founded in 1854, has endured several powerful storms. Here is a look at how the school celebrated bouncing back from Katrina.
"The storm was catastrophic," said Dean of Students Erich Hoffer. "Even the place where we're standing (the school gymnasium) had six feet of water. So, every building and every first floor classroom was washed out."
When it was all said and done, St. Stanislaus College Preparatory High School was left with $30 million worth of storm damage. A decade later, there is a lot to celebrate at the school.
"All had to be replaced and rebuilt, and in the wake of Katrina, now 10 years out, we've done that and we're there," said Hoffer.
Students and school leaders know getting there took a lot of helping hands from volunteers, government agencies and private donors. Saying thank you for those helping hands was what this special Katrina anniversary mass was all about.
"All of these people came and poured their lives out, were so generous in giving. They were the hands and feet of God, and our hearts are moved with gratitude," said the Rev. Mike O'Connor, of Ocean Springs.
Most of the students here today did not attend the school when Katrina hit, but they know the school would not be where it is today without the help of many.
"To those who were the human face of compassion. Community foundation or federal, state agencies provided major funding and support during our time of distress," said an 11th grade student speaking from the podium.
"I didn't know how we were going to make it back, but we did. We cleaned up, and here we are 10 years later, strong as ever," said Hoffer.
First responders, relief organizations and volunteers were given a tour of the campus following the mass ceremony.