HILAND PARK, Fla. — Shy smiles and shiny new school supplies filled the hallways at Bay Haven Charter Academy on Thursday.
The school welcomed students and parents to the campus for the first time since repairing many of their facilities after Hurricane Michael, during their new school year orientation.
“Today I’m just very excited,” said Joanna Wascom, a new kindergarten teacher at Bay Haven. “I just knew that I was just going to love the kids.”
She and her fellow teachers were able to meet their new students for the first time on Thursday.
“Just to meet all their sweet little personalities, I’m just so excited to get to work with them this year,” Wascom said.
After Hurricane Michael, it’s a united front heading into the school year.
“They see that even their Bobcat family has had to persevere through trial,” said Allison Crum, Bay Haven Charter Academy’s Vice Principal.
After months of fixing broken roofs and floors, as well as mending broken hearts, school administrators say this year is about something bigger than a classroom.
“Our focus this year is going to be relationships,” said Bay Haven Charter Academy’s C.E.O. and Principal, Larry Bolinger. “We want to make sure that, you know, what Hurricane Michael taught us was the need for family.”
“We’re all brothers and sisters in our classroom together,” Wascom said.
Parents say they feel it too.
“It’s just like one big family here,” said Connie Fultz, a grandmother of one of the students. “That’s been the feeling we’ve gotten so far this year just from one day.”
“We’re just excited to move forward and continue to be a school of excellence,” said Vice Principal Crum, “and a place where our families feel safe and loved.”