School opens for the first time since damaged by tornado

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Wednesday was a big day for Mintonye Elementary students as they went back to their school for the first time since it was damaged by a tornado last year.

“It looks way better than it did during the tornado,” fifth-grader Brayden Stall said about the school.

After the school was damaged by the tornado temporary classrooms were set up at First Assembly Community Ministries.

“It was very devastating. It was heartbreaking,” fifth grade teacher Peggy Johnson said.

Students felt the same way.

“It was bad I didn’t like it because everything was here and we lost all of our stuff. It was hard,” Stall said.

“It was okay but it wasn’t the best like it would be here,” fifth-grader Hannah Heimbach said.

For the past several months crews have been working around the clock to be ready for the first day of school.

“So many people worked so hard to make sure that the school was ready and just to make sure that it looks like what we’re used to,” Johnson said.

For many it just feels like home.

“Just the smile of everybody’s faces, you can tell everybody feels the same way and the parents too, they’re just glad we’re back here,” Mintonye principal Rob Skaggs said.

“It is so great to be, what we call, home and everything is beautiful and it just feels like we’re back,” Johnson said.

Next door, Southwestern Middle School was also damaged by the tornado. Skaggs has a special message for all of those students that started the school year at Wea Ridge Middle School.

“They’ll be back before they know it,” the principal said. “It will go faster than they think and we’re going to be elated the day that they’re back in that building.”

With the first day underway, Brayden and Hannah are ready to focus on their favorite subjects. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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