Oakdale Elementary Strong: Students start school in new building after fire

OAKDALE, La. (KALB) - In May 2017 part of Oakdale Elementary School burned to the ground. The State Fire Marshal's Office determined 80 percent of the school had been lost due to an electrical issue.

Oakdale Elementary School unveiled its new building during a ribbon-cutting on Monday. | Photo Source: KALB

Parent Jamie Gordon watched in horror two years ago as it happened.

“I was standing in my front yard and literally you could see the smoke,” Gordon said. “It broke your heart because you were watching all this and knew how much it meant to the community."

The fire destroyed second through fourth-grade classrooms and more. Those students, including Gordon’s son Jackson, were housed at Oakdale Middle. Gordon also had school in the same building when she was young.

"It did not feel like home,” Gordon said. “I was telling the actual principal when we came, this feels like home. It is different, but it still feels like home."

The school district and community joined forces to bring the school back to life. They unveiled the new building during a ribbon-cutting on Monday.

It is complete with second through fourth-grade classrooms, a large library, cafeteria, gymnasium and offices.

Principal Ann Monroe said middle school staff were wonderful hosts, but it was time to come home.

"It was a hard two years for a lot of people,” Monroe said. “But, now we are all back together. That is what we are celebrating, being all back together as one family."

Now, the only memories left from the fire are those saved by firefighters and the community.

"We have some pieces in there from the burn site that were restored all throughout the building,” said Assistant Principal Lisa Winfree.

All are glad to see how far Oakdale has come.

"It will be his last year here,” Gordon said. “He will actually get to enjoy some of the excitement before he is sent back over to the junior high. But, it is beautiful. They have done a great job on it."

Staff can't wait to create new memories in their beautiful, new home.

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