PANAMA CITY — When Lauren Shelton, a teacher at Deane Bozeman School, returned to her high school history classroom after Hurricane Michael, what she saw made her "ugly cry."
A note had been left on her white board from an Army platoon, thanking her for the use of her classroom as a shelter.
“For the past two weeks, 20 soldiers have called your classroom home,” the note read. “From this room, numerous humanitarian, and security missions to the Panama City area were launched, 24 hours a day. We could not have done it without the rest and comfort we received in the safety of your classroom.
"We apologize for the mess, and eating most of your candy. Please accept a few of our uniform patches as a token of our appreciation.”
The note was signed by the Florida Army National Guard's 715th Military Police Company’s 3rd Platoon with a post script reading, “Thanks for the refresher on 19th and 20th century history!” Alongside the note were four uniform patches, and in the candy bucket, a few loose dollar bills.
To document the moment, Shelton took a photo of the white board and posted it on her Facebook page with her own note of thankfulness and the post went viral.
“I knew that my school was a shelter but I did not realize that it was housing so many members of our military,” she told the Daily News. “There were many other notes left in other classrooms in my building.”
The school was closed for six weeks after the storm. When they finally resumed classes, Shelton used the platoon’s note as a teaching point.
“We discussed their (the military’s) importance after the storm and that it wasn’t just passing out MRE's (Meal Ready-to-Eat) like many of them thought,” she said. “They were so excited to come back to school and many couldn’t imagine living in our classroom with 20 other people.”
Normally Shelton has about 160 students rotate through her class each day, but after the storm, a few of those faces have changed.
“So far I have lost about 10 students but I have gained others from other areas of our county,” Shelton said, when asked if her class was smaller after the storm.
“I plan on framing a picture of the note that was left and add(ing) the patches to the frame and hang(ing) it in my classroom,” she said.