Student-athletes at the Gainesville State School found new ways to keep busy this past year.

The school, part of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, canceled its 2020-21 football and basketball seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally, students who meet certain requirements can earn the opportunity to play sports. Students must complete at least half of their scheduled stay, do well in school and have no major rule violations, among other things.

With no games to play, the student-athletes spent time painting and redecorating their gym activity center. The room is often used as a projection room where players watch game film and learn plays.

The students did more than simply give the room a fresh coat of paint. They were allowed some creativity and created murals and art displays.  They also painted the table tops.

Not having games to play was not the only challenge the Tornadoes faced this year. With students from different dormitories often kept separated because of the pandemic, holding practice was virtually impossible.

Classes were held inside the dormitories, and the school suspended in-person visitation with family during the height of the pandemic.

Perhaps knowing how it felt to be unable to see family, some students created cards and small gifts for residents at local nursing homes.

The Tornadoes compete in the Texas Association for Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS).

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