Lots Of New Students Bring Big Challenges

Students who headed to class Tuesday morning found familiar and unfamiliar faces in the halls. St. John Catholic High School is the coast's first secondary school to resume since the hurricane.

They come from places like Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Pass Christian. Now students like Nathan Boddie are in Gulfport, courtesy of a transfer by Hurricane Katrina.

"It's been kind of confusing," said Boddie. "Everybody is wondering what their schedules are? Who is going to be in their class? Who they know from other schools that are coming here?"

St. John High school has about 100 new faces. Teachers must figure out how to get students from different educational backgrounds on the same page.

Richard Pryor teaches Geometry.

"First we're going to find out what we all know together and then we're going to use that as a basis. We're going to teach each other what we need to know and we're going to go from there."

Almost all of the old students and staff came back to St. John. Richard Pryor is so dedicated he's commuting from Baton Rouge.

"I'm doing that because I love this school and we have a mission that we want to accomplish and that's the health and welfare of our students," said Pryor.

Ray Lacy encouraged his religion class to share their hurricane stories. He knows that soon their thoughts will turn into questions.

"I think that our young people are going to say, 'why, why, why,'" he said. "They're going to wonder, 'Why did God do this?' I don't think there is an answer for that why, but I think every single one of us can look at our own lives and determine are there things I truly need to work on."

The principal at St. John High said enrollment was 255 students before the storm. It's now up to 360 students.

It may take extra books and a few more desks, but everyone at St. John is determined to make the rest of the school year a success.