Lake students, from left, Morgan Spitler, 16, Alex Momany, 17, and Destiny Coutcher, 17, check their schedules. The building students know best was heavily damaged by tornadoes in June.
Tornado-battered Lake High School welcomed its upperclassmen Friday to their first school year in an interim building, totally upending a long-established pecking order.
Though Friday marked the sophomore, junior, and senior classes' first day in the new surroundings, navigating the building's corridors was already old hat to freshmen because they started school on Thursday.
So from the 7:39 a.m. tardy bell to the 2:11 p.m. dismissal, those traditionally at the bottom of the high school totem pole were thrust to the top.
"It seemed like the upperclassmen were much more confused than we were," boasted 15-year-old freshman Kyle Murray of Walbridge.
The building known best by the older students was heavily damaged by the June 5 tornadoes that killed six people and left a swath of destruction in the region.
Lake plans to spend the next two years in a significantly smaller building at 2249 Tracy Rd. in Northwood until the damaged school in Lake Township can be rebuilt or replaced.
All things considered, teachers and students said the opening day of classes went exceptionally well.
There were crowded hallways between class bells, yet nothing too horrible. There was an after-school traffic jam in the parking lot, yet nothing epic.
French teacher Jeff Lake distributes textbooks during the first day of school for sophomores, juniors, and seniors in their temporary quarters in Northwood.
And there was some confusion about the building's layout, but nothing paralyzing.
"A little hectic, but any first day of school is hectic," said staff member Cindy Inman, who supervises study hall. "It was actually amazing how well it went - I was surprised."
"The hallways were very congested, that's for sure, but I think once the kids learn the school more it will get better," English teacher Tom Jackson said.
Lake senior Tara Preble, 16, of Millbury, arrived at school expecting the worst. But she too was pleasantly surprised.
"I thought it was going to be horrible, just having to get into classes and the crowding," Tara recalled, "but it wasn't that bad."
For junior Cole Brossia, 16, of Millbury, the new school year held just as many familiarities as differences.
"It's pretty much the same," he said. "The same teachers, the same students, but a new building."
Michele Francis, parent of a sophomore daughter, Haley, and a freshman son, Nathan, said she thanks school officials for managing to keep Lake's student body intact in the same building.
"I'm proud of our administration and our board because they've done so much in such a short period of time," she said early in the day while dropping off her two teens.
Principal Lee Herman delivered a special welcome to the nearly 450 students with the morning announcements.
"I told them it's not bricks and mortar that make a school, it's students who make a school, and their school year is what they make of it," Mr. Herman said afterward. "So if they want it to be a great year, let's make it a great year."
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