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Evacuated Children Start Classes, Far from Home

Lafayette High's principal, Patrick Leonard, speaks to students and parents in the auditorium.
Claudio Sanchez, NPR
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Lafayette High's principal, Patrick Leonard, speaks to students and parents in the auditorium.
Students evacuated from New Orleans attend the first day of school at Lafayette High School.
Claudio Sanchez, NPR /
/
Students evacuated from New Orleans attend the first day of school at Lafayette High School.
Lora Domaine, an administrator at Lafayette High School, says one of her biggest problems has been dealing with the stressed-out parents of new students.
Claudio Sanchez, NPR /
/
Lora Domaine, an administrator at Lafayette High School, says one of her biggest problems has been dealing with the stressed-out parents of new students.

Today was the first day of school in Lafayette, La. -- for local kids and for more than 4,000 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

At Lafayette High, nearly 300 new students displaced by the storm were attending classes.

The buses were packed. The hallways were packed. It was loud. The cafeteria was operating in shifts to accommodate the school's swollen population.

Garret Wax, 15, is one of the new students. His old school, Holy Cross High in New Orleans, was nearly demolished by the flooding after Katrina. He was feeling a bit nervous because Lafayette is the first co-ed school he has attended in several years.

Teachers were asked not to single out the new students in class for fear this would stress them out a little. But Lora Domaine, a veteran administrator, has had to deal with a lingering problem -- stressed-out parents.

"I've had a number of parents come in, close the door and begin crying and saying 'I can't let my children see me crying.' They just [ask] please help me make my child's life normal,'" Domaine says.

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