Gautier Elementary set to reopen 2 years after Hurricane Katrina

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday will mark the first day of classes at Gautier Elementary School since Hurricane Katrina flooded and damaged the building in 2005.

The city’s oldest school, built in 1940, was repaired with money from federal and state agencies and insurance policies.

It looks much the same as before the storm, but it does have updated paint, wiring and a new lower ceiling that will help with energy efficiency.

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“Because of FEMA, MEMA and insurance, we had to pretty much put everything back in place like they were,” said Debbie Anglin, the school districts communication’s director. “Everything has gotten a face-lift.”

It will be the first time kindergartners and first-graders have used the building. Students who attended the school in 2005 for about a month before the storm hit will be returning for the first time.

Gautier Elementary’s 220 students have been attending College Park Elementary School. Some will be saddened by the move after growing attached to the people at College Park.

“I’ll miss my old friends at College Park, yet we’ve been waiting for this a long time,” said Tina Jones, Gautier first-grade teacher.

Michelle Richmond will start her first year as a principal. The school also has a new media center and a new library, which made room for more administrative space.

Teachers such as computer instructor Debbie Burns have been preparing their classrooms for this week’s return.

Burns is a 20-year employee at the school and her husband, Mike, attended the school in the 1960s.

“This school looks the same, but with everything looking so new, I’m excited,” Burns said.