Whitefish Bay students make it home after being stuck in Georgia

WHITEFISH BAY (WITI) -- Those to the south are still recovering from a snowstorm that crippled interstates in and around Atlanta. Thousands of accidents kept people stranded for hours -- and highways and roads are still littered with abandoned vehicles. Students from Whitefish Bay, on board a bus headed home from a music trip were headed right for the gridlock -- and the group finally made it home on Thursday, January 30th.

The final minutes are always the longest when you're waiting for a child to return safely.

"I think I might hug her first!" Connie Blair said.

Katherine Murray was waiting for her son Robert Thursday. He was one of 33 students on a band trip to Disney World, Florida.

The return trip started on Tuesday, and by early Wednesday -- the bus was headed straight for Atlanta.

"Around 2:30 a.m. I received an email and a text from the teacher saying they would be stopping for the night in Altoona, Georgia, and they would let us know in the morning when they would be leaving," Murray said.

Whitefish Bay High School Principal Bill Hinkle stayed in constant contact with parents, as the group decided to pull off the highway and hold up for the night in a hotel.

"I think it really played out nicely in terms of keeping people at ease with what was a concerning situation," Hinkle said.

The road-weary musicians ended their journey just before noon on Thursday -- knowing the experience could have been very different.

"The other stories of school children being stuck in buses or classrooms and we just felt fortunate enough our band teachers and our wonderful chaperones were able to make the call ahead of time in order to keep us safe and warm," freshman Mack Dern said.

The trip home was extended by 12 hours.

"They did really well. They were spirited through the delay. They really kept a good positive spirit. We took them to the mall to kind of let them vent and blow off some steam," band director Nick Castonguay said.

Parents say they're just thankful to have their children home safe -- after this difficult trip.

On their return, the students were given the option of heading home to rest -- or heading to class -- and plenty decided they had been away from school long enough, and headed to class.