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Denham Springs Elementary reopens after being shutdown by flooding

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BATON ROUGE - Thousands of schools destroyed in the August flood, thousands of families displaced, and thousands of students scattered around at different campuses. 

It has been months of hard times and hard work for the Livingston Parish School Board, but the wait is finally over for Denham Springs Elementary students.

"Before the flood we had over 500 students in our school, and less than 60 of them did not flood," Principal Gail Delee said.

However, on Monday morning a new beginning starts.

Lee says some teachers were worried about how functional the modular campus would be. However, much to everyone's surprise, the campus is everything they wished for.

"Every time a teacher walks in they're like, 'This really feels like a school!'" Lee said. "We're very excited, they're large buildings, we have hallways, the teachers have decorated the hallways, it feels like home." 

The return is just as exciting for the teachers who've put in countless hours of labor preparing for the opening day.

"I think that what stands out is, even though it's February, tomorrow is our third first day of school," said Marissa Hofstetter, a teacher at Denham Springs Elementary.

"It's a third new beginning so the children have went through so many changes this year and they're all doing so much better than I ever could have expected, and they give me the strength to go on and I'm so very proud of them," Hofstetter said.

Superintendent Rick Wentzel says reopening the school was his top priority. He says it's part of an effort to restore some normalcy for the students.

The temporary Denham Springs Elementary sits on Hatchell Road, next to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, the owners of the property the campus sits on. The church has loaned the property to the school district for two years.

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