ALTO, TX (KTRE) - Students attending Alto High School will have to finish out the remaining weeks of the school year at new but familiar locations after the high school was recently deemed too unsafe to attend.
A tornado damaged the high school campus on April 13. Students returned to classes the following week, but were forced to attend classes out of the elementary and middle school until officials made a decision about the high school. All three schools share the same campus. The high school building has since been deemed unsafe, so no students or faculty are allowed back in the building.
“Even with the larger kids interacting with the smaller kids, it’s just a lot of energy because they like to see their smiling faces. It’s like one big happy family," said Shanequa Dorsey, Alto High School principal.
Dorsey is a first-year high school principal. She never dreamed it would end in an elementary school setting.
“As of now, our plan is just to get through the school year and make sure our students stay in high spirits, and that they know we’re all here in this together,” said Dorsey. “Also making sure our teachers are receiving the support that they need. And once graduation is over and the school year has concluded, we will begin discussing what August 2019 will look like.”
Larger desks and chairs were brought in for almost grown high school kids. Still, the sight of their high school behind a chain link fence for safety reasons can’t be easy. Especially for the seniors who are facing the STARR test next week. Their counselor, Dimitri Starovic, thinks his 51 seniors can say, ‘We’ve got this’.
“I can honestly say I’ve noticed very little change," said Starovic. "If anything, I’ve seen an improvement in behavior and performance.”
STAAR testing is scheduled to begin for Alto High School students next week. Dorsey said staff are doing their best to create a somewhat normal atmosphere to help students focus on the task ahead.
An alternative location has been chosen to take the STAAR test, so there are no distractions caused by the temporary campus changes. As for the 2019-20 school year, Dorsey said everyone knows a new school, even a repaired school, can’t happen before the first day of school on August 19.
“We have to have a plan. With our administrative team and our school board we’re definitely in the process of coming up with a plan and once that plan is set we’ll be able to share it with the community," she explained.
As for graduation, plans will remain the same. Graduation will be held in its routine place in the high school’s outdoor stadium.