Petal Upper Elementary students return to campus after tornado ravages school

Petal Upper Elementary students return to campus after tornado ravages school

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Petal Upper Elementary School students had their first day of classes back in their original building Monday morning.

The students had been having class at Petal Harvey Baptist Church for the past two months while their school underwent through repairs.

A day after the EF-3 tornado, the church offered their building as a temporary school.

Petal superintendent Matt Dillon eagerly awaited the students arrivals.

"If you look at some of the houses around here, and the importance of this school right in this neighborhood in particular, it is pretty special for us," said Dillon.

Cheerleaders, the Petal Panther, and even a Petal police officer welcomed the students back to their home.

"I'm very thankful to have all of my students back in my classroom," said 6th grade english language arts teacher, Mabry Dennis. "We have missed having them all together."

Petal Upper added two new things to their building after the storm: a metal awning and a "Panther Strong" sign.

"To go through something like a tornado, and to go back after only missing one day, I think that shows the strength of this community," said Dennis. "I don't think it would be just a normal student to go back after experiencing something like a tornado, and then losing all their stuff and having to leave it all behind here. I think it shows just how strong they are."

Students have five weeks of the school year left.