MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — Stoner Creek Elementary School, which is is proudly reopening its doors in Mt. Juliet, has come a long way over the last thousand days after being destroyed in the March 2020 tornado.
“It was very interesting on how a storm could come through and level one classroom but the classroom right beside of it have the wall off but be able to see it sitting as it was the day before we left it,” Principal Amanda Smith said. “A lot of emotions, just thankful that those students weren’t sitting in those classrooms.”
Leslie Powers remembers seeing the aftermath with her two daughters at home, including the devastation at Stoner Creek Elementary.
“Makenzie, at the time, was going to school there and so she started crying and just going through that, like, ‘What’s going to happen? Am I going to see my teacher again? Am I going to see my friends?'” Leslie recalled.
The Powers family, like many, said they’re glad the tornado struck when it did.
“I was very grateful that, like my mom said, that it did happen at the time that it did because, had it not, who knows what could have happened,” said McKenzie Powers. “It was, like, eye-opening just to see how grateful I am for what I have.”
Makenzie is now in 7th grade and goes to another district school while West Wilson Middle School across the street is being rebuilt. Still, the reopening of Stoner Creek represents healing for many.
“I love it! It’s probably better than it was!” Stoner Creek kindergartener Kennedy Powers said.
According to Leslie, the school district also deserves a pat on the back.
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“The teachers here have been amazing,” Leslie said. “They’ve always stayed positive, they’re here for the kids, and they really are amazing.”
Smith won principal of the year from Wilson County during the cleanup and rebuilding process. She said she and the district’s hard work has finally paid off.
“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and I feel like we’ve done that as we’ve climbed mountains, and to be able to look at this place now and how shiny and new and state of the art it is, we would say that all of those mountains were definitely worth the wait because here we are now,” Smith said.
West Wilson Middle School is at least a year away from completion, according to Wilson County Schools.