FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (FOX 26) - While it's back to the books after Christmas break for many kids in Houston, it's actually more like the first day of school for students at Willowridge High School after mold shut the building down months ago.
“Our very first day back home. We're very excited about being back home,” Willowridge Principal Thomas Graham says smiling.
“Being at Marshall it was real different. It was hard trying to adjust,” explains Willowridge High School football player Jacorey Pattum. Pattum will have quite the story to tell about his senior year. He spent the entire first semester, along with 1,700 of his schoolmates and staff, attending Marshall High, their rival.
”It's just tough going to school with your rival. You have to go to class with them, see them every day, eat lunch with them, talking, socializing,” says Willowridge Junior Vaughnte Frederick.
The sign out front isn't the only thing welcoming Willowridge High School kids back to the building. They are also greeted by fresh flooring, paint, brand spanking new ceiling tiles, seating and desks.
"I like the mural of the eagle in the gym, it's live,” laughs Pattum.
“I miss being here. It's home,” adds Frederick.
“Our building was just saturated with mold. So because of the saturation with mold they had to come in and part of the remediation process was anything porous in the building had to be removed,” explains Principal Graham.
Some things that were saved include trophies and the golden footballs gifted by the NFL, symbolizing the four former Willowridge students who played in Super Bowls.
Willowridge has been closed since summer. Now after this $12 million makeover, students and staff have learned there's no place like home.
“Go Ridge,” Frederick says smiling.