TIOGA, TX -- This year Tioga ISD brought back its high school after more than 50 years and on Thursday it will release its first freshman class for the summer.
Until this year, Tioga did not have a high school since 1961. Former graduates say it closed its doors because there were not enough students to fill the classrooms; however, in the mid 2000's voters passed a bond to bring it back and this year the check on the ballot finally came to fruition.
Freshman Aaron Harp is in the first class expected to graduate from Tioga High School since 1961.
"It is an awesome experience being the top dogs and leaders here," Harp said.
With only 23 students it is not your typical freshman class.
"We're like a family here. We're all close. You can ask people, new people that come here it's hard to get in our group because we're all really tight together," Harp said.
"That's one thing about a small school. You love each other," Betty Gressett said.
Betty Gressett graduated from Tioga High School in 1954 and says she was sad to see its doors close.
"So many times you don't only lose your high school you lose, you know, so many young people out of your churches and out of your community," Gressett said.
Before this year Tioga only had K through 8th grade and come Freshman year the class would often split up among other high schools.
"I didn't want to go to another school I didn't want to go to Pilot Point. I didn't want to go to Gunter," Freshman Verenice Aguirre said.
Superintendent Dr. Charles Holloway says the high school does more than just keep Tioga students together.
"A high school kind of gives identity to your community, and you know that's what we are trying to do," Dr. Holloway said.
With the addition of varsity athletics -- including a six man football team -- school and community spirit has sky rocketed.
"Even though we lost, our supporters made a victory line for us," Harp said.
"We're having to increase the size of our stands because we couldn't accommodate everyone who came," Dr. Holloway said.
That school spirit has been a good match with the population boom.
"We grew over a hundred kids from the end of school last year till today," Dr. Holloway said.
Students have high expectations for the School's future.
"I'm hoping we'll get bigger and more academics, more people, more sports -- a golf team is what i'm hoping for," Harp said.
Dr. Holloway says construction is expected to start on a new "cafetorium" and 13 new classrooms on Thursday.
He says they will also enhance the school's security.