LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In a video posted to Facebook early April, DeRidder High School students saw their principal tearing up, barely able to speak.
Principal Harry Hooker had tested positive for COVID-19 and was fighting for his life in the hospital, on a ventilator that month.
After his recovery, Hooker said he’s grateful to still be here after fighting COVID-19.
“There were rumors that I had expired, and that was not the case,” Hooker said. “I was grateful that I was alive and I wanted to let them know that I love all of my students.”
Hooker wanted his students, faculty, staff and friends to know how serious the virus is and how it affects someone’s life.
The road to recovery wasn’t easy. A few days after testing positive, Hooker’s symptoms worsened.
“After 2 days of being at Beauregard Health System, my kidneys and lungs failed and then I was transported to Christus St. Patrick’s and I was there for approximately 3 weeks,” Hooker said. “So I was on the vent for 5 days and the hardest part was regaining strength and the use of my faculties and getting back well.”
Both he and his wife Shamika Hooker said it was a great moment when he was taken off the ventilator.
“He barely could talk, but he got out ‘I love you,’ Shamika said. “And I said ‘I love you', we prayed and I didn’t want him to be too long but I was just excited.”
Now back at the office to prepare for the upcoming school year, Hooker had a message for his students.
“I want them to know that I want to continue to lead their education aspirations because I’m a firm believer that education is going to be the key to unlock the doors to future,” Hooker said. “And the way the world is right here and now is going to take all of us together to ensure a brighter future for all of us. I just want them to know I’m okay and their interest is at the forefront of my mind.”