Students Return to Plainfield Memorial School for First Time Since Fire

After a devastating fire, a Plainfield school is getting a fresh start.

Plainfield Memorial School opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday since August.

For the last four months, the fourth and fifth-grade students have made the old Killingly High School their home.

The superintendent said Plainfield Memorial School has been completely renovated after the fire.

Every wall, ceiling tile and damaged flooring has been replaced, cleaned or painted at an estimated $1 million price tag.

"It was cleaned from up into the ceiling tiles, down to the floor, so this is essentially a new, clean, healthy environment for the kids, so that's exciting," Principal Natasha Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson was a fourth grader here before she became a teacher and principal. So, she took it hard when an electrical fire sparked in a ceiling fan damaged half of the school’s classrooms.

“I was very sad. We were all filled with tears that day as we watched the smoke billowing out and the fear of being able to get back in here,” she said.

But, after the fire, an old label on a bookshelf in one of those classrooms gave her a glimmer of hope. As she made sure all of the ash had been removed she saw something incredible.

“My mom’s name still on a bookshelf, down on a corner in a small space in a classroom,” she explained.

This is Ms. Howe’s bookshelf now, but it was Ms. McKain’s decades ago. Ms. McKain is Hutchinson’s mother, a former teacher at Plainfield Memorial and principal in the district.

“Back in the 70’s she must have put it there and it still remains despite the fire.”

PHOTOS: Plainfield Memorial School Reopens Fully Renovated After Fire

Teachers decorated each of their spaces over Christmas break, filled with donated books and school supplies.

“This is my home away from home. I’ve spent 19 years teaching for Plainfield, and it is just a feeling of relief to be back in my space," said fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Howe.

According to the principal, there are still odds and ends that need to be taken care of, like getting the internet up and running and books for the library won't arrive until the end of the month.

In August, firefighters said the fire was located in several administrative rooms on the second floor. The point of origin is believed to be a teacher's lounge.

The superintendent said it damaged around 12 to 15 rooms, including the cafeteria and the library.

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