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Stranded students arrive home after avalanche blocks highway

A group of students from Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek arrived home Monday evening after being stuck at the North Cascades Institute by an avalanche shut down Highway 20. (KOMO Photo)

MILL CREEK, Wash. – A group of students from Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek arrived home Monday evening after being stuck at the North Cascades Institute by an avalanche shut down Highway 20.

The students were taken by bus up to the mountains last Wednesday for a three-day field trip.

They were supposed to come home Friday but had to extend the trip due to the highway’s shutdown.

Transportation crews cleared a single lane of Highway 20 Monday, which allowed the students to travel out of the North Cascades.

“It was not fun, that’s all I can say,” Aidan Stewart said. Stewart says he ran out of medication for his ADHD, and was growing restless in the mountains. “I was a little anxious up there. But I’m good now.”

“I’m happy to be home,” senior Maddy Podner said. She was greeted at Jackson High by her mother and several friends from her softball team. Their season opener is Tuesday.

“We’re going to win,” Podner said.

Dozens of parents were waiting in the pick-up area of Jackson High Monday evening when the buses pulled in. Several parents brought balloons and gifts.

Several parents said they had been seriously concerned for their children’s well-being before news spread that their bus would be able to make it back Monday.

“We just want our kids home, you know?” Jackson High parent Jim Havens said. “Whatever it takes.”

Overall, the students said their spirits stayed high throughout the journey.

“Oh it really was not that bad,” Taylor Gerould said. Taylor appreciated that the North Cascade Institute staff made the students cinnamon rolls and macaroni and cheese. She says the students stayed warm and well fed, though she was excited to make a trip to Chick-fil-A to mark her homecoming.

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