Pass Christian Schools In Ruins After Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/21/05

Pass Christian Schools In Ruins After Katrina

Pass Christian Superintendent Dr. Sue Matheson slowly walked up concrete stairs and said, "The steps that lead to nowhere".

It was a sight she never imagined she'd ever see.

"We thought we might get damage. We'd be okay. But we never ever in our wildest dreams, that we would have schools literally blown away," Sue Matheson said.

Pass Christian Middle School, built in 1937, survived Camille. But Katrina proved too evil and too powerful.

"There's nothing but rubble. It's just totally decimated."

Katrina's destruction didn't stop there. Over at Pass High School, there was 17-feet of water. Pass Elementary was totally gutted.

Matheson sighed and said, "I was nauseated to see it. We worked so hard to make our school district one of the top ranked school districts in the state, and to have three of your four schools destroyed overnight is just really difficult, including central office".

Delisle Elementary also flooded, but it's the only school now open in Pass Christian.

"This is going to be our central office. It's going to be the hub for all four of our schools K-12."

Construction crews are in the process of clearing land next to Delisle to set up 50 portable classrooms. And donations, from school supplies to diapers, are pouring in from all over the country.

As Dr. Matheson hears about an offer to donate desks and equipment, she smiled and said, "We appreciate it. We really do. Again, we're starting from ground zero".

Starting over won't be easy, but Dr. Matheson believes with faith and determination, the district and her school family will be whole again.

"Absolutely, we're recovering. We got a great staff. Everyone is here and working, and we'll be back."

The district also lost all the student's records in the storm. That's why all students are required to register for school, so the district can get an idea of how many students will be returning.

Parents can register from 8am to 3pm at Delisle Elementary, or by calling 255-0921. Also, all school personnel must report to work next Monday at 10am at Delisle.

Dr. Matheson says 80 percent of her personnel lost their homes. She is asking for donations of mobile homes, so those teachers and staff left homeless can have a place to stay.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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