Paradise students return to class after devastating Camp Fire

PARADISE, Calif. (KCRA/CNN) – At Paradise campuses, families excitedly poured in it was a reunion for many, children, staff, and parents alike.

“Our kids, oh my gosh, it’s amazing to see them go back to school today,” Valvena Hedrick said. “Oh, it’s so it’s amazing.”

Jeff Marcus, the former longtime principal, came out of retirement for this very moment. “They will not let the Camp Fire define who they are, to dictate their future,” Marcus said. “They are returning here to pursue their hopes and dreams and they are the strongest, most resilient, most passionate, committed group of young people I have worked within 40 years.”

Paradise High is now combined into two schools, grades 7-12.

As far as a student population estimate, the district isn’t “sure yet,” given how many times families have moved over the last nine months.

One mother said, “It feels good… feels like we’re back home again.”

The first day of class can simply be described as powerful, but bittersweet, reminding residents of what once was but also reinforcing hope to rebuild.

“We all have different jobs now,” one mother said. “Different jobs, different homes. But we’re going to try and keep them in the same school. That’s one good thing.”

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