Trace Elementary School in SJ reopens after fire

August 16, 2010 11:42:05 AM PDT
A San Jose school has kept its promise, after a devastating fire by welcoming students back to school. Monday morning, the first lesson for children at Trace Elementary School is resilience.

An arson fire destroyed the main building on July 5. An overwhelming effort by the community made it possible to students to return less than two months later.

It's the first day of school for the more than 1,000 children who attend Trace Elementary on Dana Avenue in San Jose. Many parents and children didn't really think the school would open on time.

"I was really impressed at how the district really turned around and said 'we are going to rebuild here, we are going to start school here' -- cause my kids have been coming to school here for several years. It was really touching," said parent Eliza Arias.

"It's surprising that they pulled it off and got the portables together," said parent Michelle Morales.

Surprising because it was only five weeks ago that a suspected arson fire raged through Trace Elementary destroying about 20 classrooms, administration offices and the library. There were no sprinklers required in the building when it was constructed.

First grade teacher Esther Bono who is preparing for students in her new portable classroom still feels the loss.

"It's very hard at first just knowing that the whole community all the first, second and part of the third graders lost all their materials and sentimental belongings. But the community really has come together and I think it just shows how strong of a community we are," said Bono.

The community was promised that school would start on time and there would be classrooms for the children. That promise was made by San Jose School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews.

"It's taken a lot of work a lot of dedication -- a commitment from staff, a commitment from our school board. Our first priority is that we have high quality facilities," said Matthews.

The portables have been placed across the street from the original campus. Donations of more than $100,000 have come in from parents, teachers business and corporations.

Rebuilding the campus will cost upward of $12 million according to the district. The superintendent says the new building will have sprinklers and other safety equipment.


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