Southwestern Middle School reopens nearly two years after being destroyed by a tornado

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LAFAYETTE, Indiana – Surveillance video recorded inside of Southwestern Middle School captures the complete destruction a tornado caused when it ripped through school property on November 17, 2013.

“It was heartbreaking. It made my cry to see the school, knowing that I could not go back in,” says Southwestern teacher Tammy George.

The video shows debris flying through the gym and captures the strong winds tearing down ceiling tiles in the hallway. Nearly two years later and just in time for the first day of school Southwestern Middle School reopened. Looking better than ever before.

“It is really nice. Everything is brand new and it’s so different. I think the biggest thing is that it’s so much brighter. It looks so good,” says Southwestern student Brooklyn Coffey.

Nearly every door students open now leads to a new and improved area of the building. The renovations include a brand new gym, cafeteria, classrooms, and an improved band room.

“It is amazing. I have already been here for two weeks and it is still a great feeling walking into the school every time. Now that the kids are here, it is even better,” says Southwestern Principal Karen Shuman.

The renovations cost around $11 million, but staff say the boosted morale and new sense of spirit are priceless.

“It also showed the kids resiliency. You come back. Just because you are knocked down, doesn’t mean you give up. You fight back and you come back stronger and more united as one. I hope that is what we are going to see this year,” says George.

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