Waverly students start school in temporary building two years after devastating flood

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Waverly Elementary and Junior High School students have a new home to start the 2023-2024 school year two years after devastating floods destroyed their former home.

The new space will allow students to study under one roof in a 73,000-square-foot building that previously housed the Acme Boot Factory. Previously, students and staff were scattered among auditoriums with makeshift walls, gymnasiums, and a local community college across the county.

The temporary building has 69 classrooms, multiple gymnasiums, a playground, and a large cafeteria.

Students were greeted by their principals and teachers at the front door for the first day of school on Wednesday, August 2.

“We’re pumped,” said Waverly Elementary School Principal Bryant Brink. “We’re back home.” 

Principal Brink said the return is just one instance that exemplifies the strength of the community.

“There’s no doubt the first year when the flood hit we lost all of our curriculum, we lost everything, our whole building, but we didn’t lose the people, and that’s what’s most important,” said Brink.

Doug Muha, a pre-K through third grade counselor at Waverly Elementary School, said the building is a relief for staff as they now have a place to store their materials and truly build a classroom.

Muha said the retention among employees has been so strong since the flooding because of the community they’ve crafted and the feeling of not wanting to abandon each other after living through tragedy.

“By and large, all of the teachers who were in the school that got flooded are back at this school and it’s just, there’s a comradery here,” said Muha. “We’re a team and we’ve acted that way, and it’s really good to be a part of it.” 

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Humphreys County Director of Schools Richard Rye said it will be three to four years before their permanent schools are ready. Right now, the district is working on renderings and securing funding from FEMA.

According to Rye, once the permanent buildings are ready, the temporary space will be used as the district’s central office.

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