Houston students return to 'new normal' after quake damages middle school

Houston Middle School students began classes in portables at what's now Houston Jr./Sr. High School Monday. (KTUU)
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HOUSTON, Alaska (KTUU) - More than a month after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake, Houston Middle School is one of the last schools to make the transition to its new home.

More than 700 students combined into one building and 13 portables to create Houston Jr./Sr. High School Monday. It was their first day back after some serious planning for the transition.

The school's administrators even marked the event with a special sweatshirt, which reads "Nothing shocks the Hawks" with an Earthquake symbol near Houston on a map of Alaska.

Houston principal Ben Howard said that every structural wall at the middle school was compromised, making the building unsafe for students and staff to return to, and the high school was just too small to accommodate all 700 students.

The Mat-Su Borough School District brought in 13 portable classrooms for 6th and 7th graders while 8th graders will make the transition early to the high school building.

Classes like gym and all meals will be together in one building and Houston Principal Benjamin Howard says planning for the transition was not an easy task.

"Just figuring out spaces and how we are going to share spaces where we are going to store things classrooms for kids we are using every bit of space that's in the building and so even what may be used to be a closet at one point is now an office and so we are just going to try to make it work so the kids have the best education they can get," says Howard.

The administration said aside from the obvious space issue, things like drop-offs and bus schedules were an easy transition because of the proximity of the two schools.

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