Paradise, California (CNN)In the three months since a fire virtually wiped out their town, everything in the lives of Paradise High School students has been temporary -- their housing, their day-to-day routines, the faceless office park they attend classes in.
Her home burned down. He was living in a converted bus. How the kids of Paradise High have coped since the fire
This week, the students gathered for their first assembly as a full student body to hear a message of hope and resilience. It was a moment for them to reflect on everything they've been through, the things that have given them strength and the road ahead.
On the day the Camp Fire scorched their home, Paradise High senior Sarah Peters and her family moved into a house that her father, a contractor, had been remodeling. The home had an unfinished kitchen and no paint on the walls.
For two days, the family huddled together in the shell of a home in Chico, covered with blankets because they didn't have heat.
The owners have continued to let them live in the unfinished home since November, when the flames vaporized thousands of buildings in the northern California town, including the homes of many of Peters' classmates at Paradise High.
About 900 students attended Paradise High before the fire. Today about 500 students are on a temporary campus in an office complex, and about 175 take classes online. Some struggled with being separated from friends.
But they have found ways to cope, and seniors like Peters wrote college admissions essays about how they learned to persevere.
"I think everyone at PHS, especially the seniors, we're survivors," said Peters, 17. "In a way, we've gained a lot, even in comparison to what we've lost."
On Tuesday, the entire Paradise High student body -- about 500 students -- gathered to listen to Kevin Atlas, who is believed to be the first person with one hand ever to play Division I basketball.
He created a series called "Believe in You," which aims to teach young people to support each other. His visit to Paradise High was part of a 70-school tour sponsored by a company called Varsity Brands, which supplies schools with sporting equipment, classrooms and yearbooks.
Standing 6 feet, 11 inches, he developed into a high school star in California -- but then he broke his leg in a game. Depressed about his college prospects and having lost his father to cancer, he said he downed a bottle Vicodin to try to take his life. He overcame his depression.
They should keep in mind the bigger picture, even though the present looks bleak, he told them.
"You are going to have the craziest legacy. You don't know how important you are," he told them. "I look at you guys and I see the future."
The Camp Fire, which broke out on November 8, 2018, was the deadliest in state history, claiming 85 lives. It destroyed three campuses, and damaged classrooms at other schools including Paradise High, according to Ed Gregorio, a principal at Ponderosa Elementary, which was heavily damaged.