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Damaged in 2016 flood, Denham Springs school debuts renovated campus

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DENHAM SPRINGS - High-fives, big smiles and a little bit of partying helped ring in the new school year at Southside Junior High and Southside Elementary.

"I'm just excited to walk the halls today and just watch them walk around mesmerized," said Wes Patin, principal at Southside Junior High.

Both schools were damaged in the 2016 flood, a devastating time for students and staff who were left without a campus for six years.

Laura Williams is principal of the elementary school. She says the excitement of the brand new combined campus is what kept them moving forward.

"It was very difficult to put into words, really. We worked really hard to get there. We actually allowed the teachers to have some collaboration as we moved forward."

The two-story building is now raised nearly 10-feet higher than the original facility. It's equipped with multi-purpose rooms and open spaces for learning.

"This school was designed in order to facilitate learning, whether you're in the hallway, cafeteria or in the gym. No matter where you're at, there's several areas where we have communal learning where we can bring our kids out, our classrooms open up, our teachers can take our kids out into the hall," Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Now the students have new learning materials to get the school year started off on the right foot and make them feel right at home.

"We should be happy about what we're doing, excited about what we're doing. If we lose that, then we probably don't need to be in the profession anymore," Patin said. "So dancing and getting crazy and really being out of your element—which I was out of my element—that's what it's all about. We have to do that, for our kids."

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