"I think that we all know that this is an odd time, and we're trying to make the best of moments like that," she said.
The Trojans have been practicing on the track of where one wrecked school building once stood next to West Fertilizer. Both the school and the plant have been demolished.
"Not one complaint, though," said assistant superintendent Jan Hungate. "They were just happy to be here. We can learn a lot from the kids. They've been so resilient."
The signs of rebuilding are evident everywhere in town. A handful of new houses are almost ready for families to move in. Dozens of wrecked homes that had curved walls and spray-painted messages on the front are gone, leaving empty gravel lots waiting to be rebuilt.
The decision by federal officials to reverse their earlier denial of major emergency aid means millions of dollars are expected to flow into West, allowing town and school officials to rebuild water lines and buildings.
The finished product is years away. On Thursday, students and fans of the Trojans were focused on seeing their team back on the field and trying to beat Little River-Academy.
"It's big, not only because we're overcoming adversity," Hungate said. "It's school spirit, and that happens no matter what kind of building you're in."
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