The trials have been big and small for two teenagers who moved to Howard County after they were forced to leave their homes in New Orleans to escape the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
For Will Oakland, 17, there was the accident on his way to Columbia in which his truck flipped over; he escaped uninjured. For Margie Rosencrans, 17, there are days of eating lunch alone in the cafeteria. Both are trying to settle into unfamiliar surroundings at Atholton High School in Columbia.
The teenagers are among more than 55 students who have enrolled in Howard schools since Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast in late August. More than 800 "Katrina kids" have entered schools across the Washington area, officials have said.
To accommodate the students -- many of whom are without transcripts, medical records or permanent addresses -- school officials are waiving enrollment requirements. Officials in Virginia and Maryland said they are classifying the students as homeless to take advantage of a federal law that allows schools to put such children into classes without the usual documentation.
Catholic and private schools across the region are also accepting children displaced by Katrina, with many offering free tuition.
Oakland and Rosencrans arrived at Atholton High early this month. Oakland, a senior, had transcripts from his former school in New Orleans, guidance counselor Ingrid Morton said. Rosencrans enrolled as a junior, and her younger brother, Robert, entered as a freshman.
Morton said the school is still registering many local students for classes, which started Aug. 29 -- the day Katrina struck. Oakland and Rosencrans did not miss much, she said.
"We've been sort of changing schedules and moving people around since the first day of school," Morton said. "As far as the school was concerned, it was not disruptive at all."
Rosencrans and her parents are staying with her aunt and uncle in Columbia. She said she has heard that her home in uptown New Orleans is largely undamaged. She hoped to return in a few weeks to finish the semester at a private school about an hour outside the city.
"I guess it did make me see school in a different perspective," she said of the hurricane.
Oakland, however, was not so optimistic about his family's prospects. He is also living with an aunt and uncle. His mother was in Houston, his father stayed in New Orleans, and his younger brother was in North Carolina.
He said that he thinks their homes were unscathed but that his father's trucking company in eastern New Orleans was heavily damage. Oakland had planned to attend Tulane University in New Orleans or Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge but said he was worried whether they will be open next year.
Rosencrans and Oakland said they hope to return to New Orleans to help the city rebuild. When that will be is still uncertain -- residents are now trickling back in.
Although the teenagers said they have no complaints about Columbia, it simply isn't home.
"Everyone's really nice here," Oakland said.
"It's a lot different. There was a lot more party atmosphere in New Orleans."