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After Tornado Damages Dallas’ Thomas Jefferson High, Students Worry And Wonder What’s Next

Beginning Wednesday, Dallas ISD students from tornado-damaged schools will head to different campuses. Thomas Jefferson High School and the surrounding neighborhood were hit hard by the weekend's severe weather. The school’s students will now have class at the old, empty Thomas Edison Middle School in west Dallas.

Clean-up was non-stop Tuesday in Thomas Jefferson’s northwest Dallas neighborhood. As a community volunteer sawed limbs off a tornado-torn tree, five Thomas Jefferson students, including senior Jackie Rios, were going door to door, handing out items, including bagels, juice and water.

“These are supplies from the Village Church that they’ve provided for the neighborhoods that have been hit by the tornado,” Rios said. “People in the neighborhood right now don’t have electricity. We’re here to just help.”

Despite being occupied with helping her neighbors, Rios, who plays the flute at Thomas Jefferson, couldn’t take her mind off her wrecked school and beloved band room.

“I wonder how everything is there – all the instruments,” Rios said.

Her classmate, Marcela Landin, was also still coming to terms with the weekend’s devastation.

“I couldn’t believe it because I’ve been going there four years and to see our school destroyed really had a deep impact on me,” Landin said. “This was our homecoming week and we had all our preparations. We made posters and everything, and we were ready. And then we left for the weekend, and we didn’t come back.”

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Thomas Jefferson High School's Patriots sign is a bit battered from Sunday's tornado. Students will now be bused 9 miles south to another campus. "It's a sad situation. I guess it hurts all of us. But I mean things happen. We just have to stay postive and keep supporting TJ," says Marcela Landin, TJ senior.

Senior Justin Barron has seen the old Edison Middle School building where Thomas Jefferson students will go for now. He said it’s big enough, but it’s just not T-J. He’ll miss his school.

“It’s our last memories together and … like we’re going to leave the school,” Barron said. “So the fact we can’t go back to the school we made memories in, is just kind of sad. It's upsetting." 

Students from Cary Middle School, along with Burnet, Cigarroa, Pershing and Walnut Hill elementary schools, have also been displaced and will attend class at alternate locations. 

District officials say they’re holding out hope Thomas Jefferson can be rebuilt. But even if that happens, it won’t be ready this school year.