WEST, Texas — Photographs are as close as Madison Cammack will ever get to returning to West High School.
She’s part of the first class of seniors forbidden to return to the campus that was rendered unsafe by the fertilizer plant blast on April 17.
"You don’t realize how much you miss it until something's gone," Madison said.
But unlike the end of the last school year, when nearby districts opened their doors to displaced West students, the district has a plan to keep Madison and her classmates in their home town this fall.
West ISD says it will consolidate four schools worth of students in two locations. The plan relies heavily on portable classrooms, which does raise one concern for a high school girl.
"I think our sidewalks are going to be outside, and the hallways are going to be outside. I guess my hair will look bad sometimes, but whatever!" Madison said with a laugh.
The district is relying heavily on portables for several reasons; one of them is safety.
In the wake of the disaster, West ISD bused students to nearby Connally. But with Interstate 35 under construction, they felt putting the kids on the highway all year was just not safe.
In a letter to the community, Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford wrote that bringing all 1,200 students back to West is the right thing to do.
"Our students should be educated here, and our teachers should teach here locally, where our tax dollars support them," Crawford said. "It will also mean the largest employment operation in the community will be back at full strength in West."
"Oh, I think it’s awesome how far they're going for us," Madison said. "I know that everyone really cares that's in the district."
In all, the district says repairs and rebuilding will cost $100 million, with the money coming from insurance, FEMA, Texas, and some local funds.
That includes re-surfacing the football field, as all athletic teams — including football — will once again take the field in West this school year.