School in San Jose celebrates opening after fire

August 31, 2012 11:31:24 AM PDT
A new chapter begins today for Trace Elementary School in San Jose, after it was destroyed in an arson fire two years ago.

A proud and excited community turned out for a grand opening. The student choir sang, the mascot prowled, the dignitaries spoke.

"We are not only normal now, we are stronger then we were," said School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews.

And for teachers and parents, the dream came true.

"As you can see everyone is smiling around here today and they have been smiling since the first day of school and I think will continue to smile for a long time," said Principal Anacelia Rocha.

The celebration took place in the middle of the new section of the school, new classrooms for first, second and some third graders and a new library. All the construction was necessary because of the arson fire on July 5, 2010. The $10 million fire was planned and carried out by two 16-year-olds; both were tried as adults, one was sentenced to eight years in prison; the other is awaiting his fate.

More than a building was lost that day.

"It was really like losing a family member. A lot of teachers lost all of their possessions in their classroom and we really are like a school family, so it was tough on a lot of people," said parent Libby Taylor.

It's been a long road back for this school, back from the buildings that were and the temporary portables classrooms that took their place.


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