BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) - Back-to-school time in Bastrop has a special meaning this year as the community continues to feel the effects of a huge wildfire that claimed more than 1,700 homes and uprooted so many families nearly one year ago.
But the community is using this time to emphasize the positive, and not to dwell on what was lost to the relentless flames that began on Sept. 4, 2011, and continued for several days.
Seventh grade math teacher Joshua Coy says it's important to see the start of school as a new beginning.
"Not looking back," said seventh-grade math teacher Joshua Coy. "And I know that sounds a little cheezy there, but any time we let out past be the past and looking right towards the future and staying on track, I think that's the most important thing."
To emphasize the community's theme of "Moving Forward," Bastrop is planning a big kick-off to its school year with a community pep rally on Thursday morning.
(See special video in the box to the left of this story, as well as in its own story page.)
For many, the upcoming anniversary cannot help but bring back memories of hard times.
"Emotionally, it was hard to see my friends," said Raven Carter, a Bastrop Middle School eighth-grader. "They were really sad and it hurt me too. But I couldn't imagine what they went through, losing their home, everything they know. Just crazy.
"This year, I'm really excited for sports. I'm excited to see my friends and a lot of new classes, to try new things."
Even the grown-ups are still coming to grips.
"It was hard to walk back into a classroom five days after losing my home and then have to push that aside to help the children in my classroom deal with what they were going through," said Kelly Seekatz, a Bastrop kindergarten teacher.
"I've spent a lot of time this summer working through the issues of losing our home, and now we're ready to move on and face the new year," she continued.
"You know, God took care of us and you know that's who I have to give it to, our savior, because without him, I wouldn't have made it through."
- KXAN Today on Thursday will be anchored from Bastrop starting at 4:30 a.m.
KXAN's tribute video from Sept. 15, 2011:
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