BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) - If there were any embers of grief left from last September's devastating wildfires, they were extinguished on a clear, late summer morning.
Cheer and drum squads from Bastrop Independent School District ' s two high schools welcomed the district members into a rousing, optimistic pep rally and convocation the week before classes are set to resume.
A year ago, this historic, mainly rural community was days away from suffering through the worst fires in Texas history. Insured damages topped $325 million.
But now, hundreds of smiling faces appeared ready to move forward after having shared so much. Indeed, "Moving Forward" is the powerful theme ISD leaders chose to rally staff and students alike.
At the convocation, it was hard to miss the Moving Forward theme emblazoned on brightly colored T-shirts most people were sporting, along with their elementary-, intermediate-, middle- or high-school colors.
"People had to live with other people, neighbors helping neighbors," said teacher and mother of four, Audra Bastrop, recalling last year's community spirit during the fires in which nearly 1,700 burned.
This year, she vowed she and her friends will hold onto a positive attitude with what the future holds.
The rally was special for everyone in Bastrop ISD. All 1,200 school district members, from the superintendent to teachers, parents and students, to maintenance crews were invited to take in the celebration with a big breakfast.
Maintenance worker Charlie Elliot said it felt like a birthday.
"It's hard to explain without seeing it," he said, laughing between bites of fried potatoes and breakfast pizza.
As this community of 74,000 souls continues to grow, staff at 2-year-old Cedar Creek High School are again allowing themselves to feel excited about the year ahead. That includes a quiet but respectful rivalry building between them and the established Bastrop High School.
This year, Cedar Creek High School will have its first-ever graduating class.
"[We're] still recovering but moving forward -- definitely," said CCHS associate principal Bridgette Cornelius.
Prayer service, other events
A prayer service to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the fire is planned for Sunday, Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Performing Afts Center.
On Monday, Sept. 3, from noon to 2 p.m., free lunches with the firefighters and first responders will be held at all major fire stations in Bastrop County.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 6:30 p.m. a major fundraiser will take place at Hyatt Lost Pines , located at 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road. The fundraiser goals are to raise enough money to build 36 homes.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.