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Dallas Students From Tornado-Damaged Schools Move To New Campuses

Thousands of Dallas ISD kids and their teachers transferred to different schools Wednesday. They were forced from their damaged home campuses because of the weekend's tornado. All Thomas Jefferson High School students are now attending classes at Thomas Edison school in west Dallas.

Wednesday was moving day, the first day of school at a new campus and a traumatic transfer all rolled into one. It was tough for students and teachers, including second year Thomas Jefferson English instructor Katelyn Velasco who was missing her old classroom.

Thomas Edison school in west Dallas
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Wednesday was moving day at Thomas Edison school in west Dallas. Thomas Jefferson High School was forced to move in after a tornado ripped up their building.

“I had a lot of stuff and love put into that classroom, so it’s really hard to pick it all up and move it all over," Velasco said. "But I just had students for first period and they seemed happy with what I’ve done with my new room so far, so I’m hopeful that it’ll be a positive change.” 

Velasco sounded optimistic, but said she’s still reeling because of what she fears is gone for good from her old classroom.

“I was on the second floor so I’m assuming it’s gone,” Velasco says. “There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ve just got to adjust and move on.”

Students like T-J sophomores Lizbeth Carreon and Diana Hernandez were also coming to terms with loss and change.

“The teachers are the same, everything’s the same, students ... but I wish I could go back to T-J,” said Hernandez.

Before Wednesday, the two had never ridden a bus to high school before. The trip from northwest Dallas down to west Dallas is 9 miles.

“It’s far away from where I live,” Lizbeth said, “but like, we’ll figure it out. I mean it’s tough because we lost our school. You know, but we have to move on.”

Thomas Edison Middle School
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
For years Thomas Edison was a middle school in west Dallas. It closed more than a year ago, and students moved to nearby Pinkston High.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said students may be able to go back to Thomas Jefferson one day. But if school is able to be rebuilt, moving back is likely a year away. Still, Hinojosa was optimistic. The school's move came off in 36 hours with what Hinojosa said were only minor glitches.

“One in five of our kids don’t finish the school year where they started, especially if you live in an apartment complex,” Hinojosa said. “So these kids are resilient, they know how to bounce back, and hopefully we’ll make some strong relationships.”

Hinojosa said a day after the big change he feels like a proud papa.