New Semester Brings Back Old Students

School has been in session in Long Beach for three months now, but this is Chelsey Douglas' first day in class.

"I was really, really, really nervous," said Chelsey Douglas.

Chelsey has been attending school in Idaho since Katrina. The Christmas break gave the fourth grader a chance to transition back to Harper McCaughan Elementary.

"Basically, I missed just about everything about being down here, all my friends and stuff."

Right after Hurricane Katrina destroyed Harper McCaughan Elementary, the school lost about 170 students. Many of those students are slowly coming back. The teachers expect more and more of those students to return this week, with the start of a brand, new semester.

Anne Ladner is certainly excited to see her enrollment numbers rising. This week, she welcomed back Delon Blackman, who transferred to Texas in September.

"Oh it's wonderful! Just a big hug. When Delon came in yesterday, I didn't know he was coming back, and didn't know where he's been. So it's like, 'I can't believe you're back. You're back home,'" said Anne Ladner.

Delon Blackman said, "It's, like, really fun. At first I thought I would forget everybody's names, but magically it just came back."

And every student who shows up, brings the school one step closer toward returning to normal.

Chelsey Douglas smiled and said, "It's kind of the same. Nothing's changed, except a new teacher. I was just glad to be back."

The state Education Department estimates there are more than 10,000 displaced students in Mississippi. That includes students who transferred to other districts in Mississippi, as well as students who moved here from neighboring states.