MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — After the devastating 2020 tornadoes destroyed Stoner Creek Elementary, students and staff were left without a school. One thousand days later, they walked through the doors of their brand new home.

“I was in second grade when the tornado hit and I’m just very excited to be coming back,” said fifth grade student Stratton Thompson.

Students spent the past two years learning virtually and in make-shift classrooms in the surviving wings of West Wilson Middle School.

“In the west wing we didn’t have very much, but now we have a whole entire new school, so it’s really exciting,” Stratton said.

“All this moving around over the past few years, they’ve been very resilient, they’ve taken everything in stride, they’ve done it with a smile on their face,” said Bart Barker, Public Information Officer for the Wilson County School District. “They have been so strong through the whole process, but all the while saying they’re ready to go home.”

For many of the students, this is the first time they’ll experience a true classroom environment. Some were in tears as they walked through the doors and hugged Principal Amanda Smith.

The 98,000 square foot building is equipped with a gym, media center, and cafeteria.

“That’s what I’m most excited for, having a playground, having the cafeteria, having classrooms and just state of the art technology and the surroundings,” Smith said. “It’s really beautiful and overwhelming.”

“It took awhile, good things come to those who wait,” said Stratton’s mother, Cassy Thompson.

While this is a tremendous win for the community, they recognize there is still more work to do as the West Wilson Middle School was also significantly damaged. Construction, however, is underway.

“West Wilson families, you’re next,” said Barker. “We don’t want to leave those folks out. We’ll just continue to provide updates on the progress of that.”