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HOULKA, MISS. (WCBI) – The first day of school is always hectic, but for administrators and teachers in Houlka, there has been an extra, unexpected challenge.

Last week a historic building on campus burned to the ground, but classes began as scheduled this morning.

On this first day of school, the Houlka Attendance Center lunchroom was busy, and fifth and sixth graders were heading to class, but in a different space than usual. The fifth and sixth graders are now in the G building, and the G building classes have been moved to the H building.

One week ago, this building, containing classrooms and a computer lab, caught fire and burned down. The 14,000-square-foot foot building constructed in 1935 was a complete loss.

So, administrators and teachers shuffled classes so everything could be ready for the start of a new school year.

“There would have been approximately 80 fifth and sixth graders with their teachers who would have been in there all day, and then approximately 150 or so other students who might have been in there for a period or so during the day,” said Supt. Betsy Collums.

School officials are now working with insurance adjustors to figure out the next step in the rebuilding process but the community came together and wasted no time helping to ensure everything was ready for the first day of school.

“We have had a lot of community support, we have had parents come out and helped set up classrooms and teachers have pitched in and helped each other so we’re really in good shape for the first day of school,” she said.

Also, Dr. Collums says it’s fortunate the fire broke out when children weren’t at school and another positive, there was enough space on campus to put the displaced students. It’s not known what caused that fire, however, there were crews renovating parts of the building when the blaze broke out. Collums estimates it will take at least a year to rebuild.

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