It's the beginning of school for many students across the metro, including those Plaza Towers and Briarwood students who walked into their new schools for the first time since the May 2013 tornado destroyed their old ones.
It's been an emotional day filled with new beginnings for everyone at Plaza Towers elementary.
"It was emotional, but it's a really good building experience. I feel like it connects everybody and brings everybody together," said Leigha Kelsey, mother of a Plaza Towers student. “We’ve driven by here a couple of times just to get used to it, you know. When the playground was put in, he was very excited about seeing that. Being at the teacher night was really good, but he's really excited about coming back. No tears or anything like that, so it was really good.”
“You get memories coming back. But other than that, they're in a lot safer school than they were before,” Richard Dixon said.
Those bittersweet feelings from Plaza Towers parents are being shared at nearby Briarwood Elementary school on the first day of classes.
“It’s back and better than it was before,” said Crystal Ross, who dropped off her five children at the new Briarwood Tuesday morning. “It was happy, but it was scary at the same time because they are at the same place where the tornado took the school.”
We spoke with Ross while she was taking pictures for a “first day of school” collage.
Parent Amanda Mason first toured the school during open house and says the place is beautiful.
“It’s a very exciting new chapter to everything,” Mason said.
The new school includes a memorial to Briarwood Pre-K student Karrina Vargyas who died on May20 2013 at her home. The bench next to the playground now displays her name.
The American flag that flew of the school on May 20, 2013 was salvaged from the debris. It now sits in a frame in the school’s office.