UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - It will be one year this Sunday since a massive sink hole formed dangerously close to Love Chapel Elementary School in Unicoi County.
Since that time, students and staff split up seeking refuge in two separate schools, until Friday, when students made a new home in a new location.
A pristine wooden walkway connecting brand new vinyl modules; it might not look like your average elementary school, but on the first day back to class it's a welcome change for students and staff at Love Chapel Elementary. "I think it's fun!" laughed Ava English, a first grade student at Love Chapel.
This outdoor mesh of classrooms represents more than a new location for learning; it's all about safety.
The old Love Chapel Elementary School neighbored a sink hole 100 feet deep. "We were not safe there," said Kindergarten teacher Reneé Lingerfelt.
After its 250 students were divided into two nearby schools, Love Chapel is finally one family again in its new, temporary location. "We rented the modules for three years that would give us time to pursue building a new school for Love Chapel Elementary," said Denise Brown, the Unicoi County Director of Schools.
Despite its unconventional appearance, it has everything you would find in any other school like private classrooms for every teacher, a library, even a computer lab. "We have one modular set up for just the cafeteria, and we also have P.E. classes in there because we can remove the tables," said Brown.
Construction was a week delayed thanks to the weather, and it's even on-going to this day. "We're still in the process of putting playground equipment in in about two weeks, and it'll be fenced in so it's it'll feel like a real school," Brown added.
For Lingerfelt, her new classroom has never looked better, and Love Chapel has never had more potential for success. "We are safe here. Our children love it. It's a nice building, and like I said we're all we're together," Lingerfelt told News 5.
School officials told us traffic should improve over the next few days once the paving and striping is finished on site.
District leaders said a permanent site for Love Chapel Elementary has yet to be selected, but so far, this temporary site is costing the school district about $750,000.