Just four months ago, on May 31, close to 80 percent of Oakdale Elementary burned down in a massive fire. Now, the school year is back.
"Everything has gone so smoothly today, we are so grateful," said Tabitha Moffett, a second grade Oakdale teacher. "We are so excited about this year."
Over 18 classrooms were lost in the blaze, including the library and 13-thousand books.
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For Moffett, hearing the news for the first time was surreal.
"When we got the call, we went to school and it really was, it was on fire," Moffett said. "We actually went to the baseball field and sat there and just watched it burn, watch it smoke."
Despite the dreadful circumstances, Oakdale is bouncing back stronger than ever.
"Everybody teams together and we do what we have to do for these kids," Moffett said. "We love it and we're excited about it."
Right now, Pre-K through first grade - about 300 students - will remain in undamaged portions of Oakdale Elementary. Second through fourth grade - another 300 students - has been moved to Oakdale Middle School, a little over one mile across town.
"I think it's helped a lot seeing these rooms and coming here [Oakdale Middle School] and seeing that these rooms are decorated really nice," said Paula Guillory, a fourth grade Oakdale teacher. "We've put a lot of effort into it."
The students will remain at Oakdale Middle School for about a year and a half until a new structure is built. The fighting spirit Oakdale is known for isn't going anywhere.
"We're upbeat about it because there's always something positive to come out of something negative," Guillory said.
The teachers, faculty, and staff said support from the Oakdale community following the fire has been tremendous.
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