ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- It's been almost a year since a fire heavily damaged one Cenla school. But now, there is light at the end of the tunnel on the road to recovery. News Channel 5's Rachael Penton takes a look at the work to restore Martin Park Elementary School.
It's been nearly a year since a fire set by a student put Martin Park Elementary School out of operation.
"It's an adjustment to get used to, but they've really been troopers," says principal Cynthia Corley.
Students returned to a temporary location on Lincoln Drive that they've been using ever since.
"It's not perfect, but at least we got to stay together," adds Corley.
And, it's been a bit of an adjustment.
"Some of us have learned to do what I call old-school teaching, because we had all our technology and everything over there and we don't have that here," says fourth grade teacher Michelle Hay.
The fire began in a fifth grade classroom, but the damage affected the entire school- making the rebuilding project a long process.
"The steam and soot traveled throughout the facility into every nook and cranny so everything had to be cleaned and removed," says Roy Rachal, director of risk management for the Rapides Parish School System.
Since last December, crews have been continually cleaning the building so that it's safe for crews- and eventually students- to enter again.
"Making sure that it's safe to breathe the air that's in the facility and then also taking surface samples to make sure that the soot and char has been removed," adds Rachal.
Once environmental tests come back with the all-clear, crews can begin rebuilding the school from it's skeleton, complete with some changes.
"It has to be brought up to ADA compliant standards, new fire regulation codes, new plumbing codes," says Rachal.
Once the project is complete, students and staff can return to the building, and it can't come soon enough for the Martin Park Community.
"We hope to get back over there so we can really get back into the community and build those relationships," adds Corley.
The project is expected to be completed sometime in the spring- at a cost of around five million dollars, but students will likely move back into the original school at the start of the next school year.