1 year after tornado, 2 Greensboro schools tied by tragedy have become one

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It’s been a long road for students and staff at Alamance Elementary.

For 358 days, they’ve been sharing a space with students from Erwin Montessori.

“It has taken a lot of planning and prayer to get us through this year,” Erwin Montessori Principal Deborah Parker said.

Erwin Montessori, along with Peeler Elementary and Hampton Elementary, was destroyed when an EF-2 tornado ripped though Greensboro.

Parker says she had a feeling of total devastation.

But just as the quickly as the storm moved in, so did the support.

“It was amazing. The tornado hit on a Sunday and the following Sunday we were having an open house. That Monday the kids came in and no one would have ever thought we had less than a week to prepare," she said.

The journeys of these two schools hasn’t always been easy.

“We have had some trials and tribulations in sharing and it’s just like if you have family members coming to live with you," Parker said.

But with time, two schools tied by tragedy have become one.

“This is the kind of thing you never want to have happen but if it had to happen I would not want to be principal of any other school. And to be paired with Alamance, they have been very supportive,” Parker said.

Alamance and Erwin will stay together for the upcoming school year but beyond that, the future is still unclear.

In part, because of the conditions, the damaged schools were already in before the tornado hit.

“These are old facilities that need a lot of work to begin with," Parker said.

Guilford County Schools’ Scott McCully says the district has been working nonstop to do what’s best for its families and employees.

“We are trying to avoid as many moves as we can for these students,” McCully said.

And until a decision is made on the fate of the three damaged schools, Parker says they will continue to learn by living out the school’s motto.

“We have a slogan, 'We’re stronger together,'" she said.

The district does say it believes it is close to reaching a settlement with its insurance company.

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