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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

Background on the towns and this project is available under the about tab above.

Click here for bios of the reporters and media producers who have worked on the series.

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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss.—Principal Albert Beltran Jr. eyes a little boy leaning out of a tent with the word “Math” written in big white letters on the side.

“Johnny,” he says, “is what you’re doing something to do with math?” he asks, trying to prompt him to pay attention to the teacher. Johnny tries to explain to “Mr. Albert” that he was counting. Then, luckily, the class breaks for lunch, so he runs off to join his classmates for a Red Cross meal under a park shelter.

This is the Tent School, set up to keep kids occupied while the district administrators scramble to reassemble the schools destroyed by Katrina. The idea was proposed by Virginia-based non-profit Loudoun Foundation, which hired Beltran to manage the project.

The 28-year-old, with a newly minted education degree, built the campus from scratch on a baseball diamond, and opened for class on Oct. 11. It has four tents and a baseball dugout for classes, a mix of volunteer and district school teachers, and lunch delivered daily by the Red Cross. Sixth- through ninth- grade children help run the program, which focuses on teaching kindergarten through fifth graders. A mobile computer lab parked at the site also provides computer-assisted learning.

As families have returned to the area, the number of students here has gradually risen to today’s high of 83 children. When the public schools reopen, which they are scheduled to do on Nov. 7, this little encampment will close down.

That will be a good sign, but from a kid’s perspective, it could be a bit sad — the end of an adventure, concedes Waveland Elementary Principal Becky Ladner. “I think some of them will be sorry they have to go back to the real school.”

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i think this is a great idea. i'm glad they are doing something rather than nothing. good job.

This is awesome. :) I'm sure the parents as well as the children appreciate it because it gives the parents time to recoup and figure out what's going on without constantly being pestered by their children.

I just left the school tent after spending a week their on Pearson's e-bus.

I will never forget it and it has changed my life forever.

I will be back soon and I will miss those children with all my heart!

Miss Heather

Having family in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, I've decided to dedicate my site Generation2b.com to the children of Katrina...Generation 2b is gathering school supplies and is collecting Box Tops for Education as well as Campbell Soup Labels to send down to the BSL area schools...Box Tops are so easy to find now:) And, it's an effective, efficient way to raise $ for these schools...
Best wishes,
JoAnn Bush
Los Angeles, CA

PS Clippingcoupons4acause.com is also for sending unexpired coupons to the community members in the Bay St. Louis area, as well...Food stamps are a great help,but unfortunately, don't cover paper goods,pet supplies and baby diapers...

I'm proud the teachers and children have such determination and strength of character to move past the ordeal that they have been put through. Education is a wonderful way to channel energy and attention that usually results in lifelong benefits.

I helped out at the tent school for one week. It was amazing to see the laughter and happiness of these children after all they have been through. I was greatly encouraged and uplifted after witnessing their ability to begin moving forward. Way to go Waveland and Bay St. Louis kids!!

What a marvelos project. I hope you will move on to an other area and do the same again It means sooo mutch to many peole - small and big alike to get theire minds a little away from the hardnes and traumas they have been through. Atlaest a coupleof houers a day I have personly been through a hurricane (in the caribbean and have seen what it can do - also to people ) It made us move together we helped oneanother to get houses rebuild with what we had onhand used old lunber old zink I also set up a afternooon program for kids helping to claen up in the village.

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