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Tallahassee's Innovation Schools Rebound After Blaze

By: Leonard Horton
By: Leonard Horton

8/14/06

It was a Monday evening last year when the Innovation Schools of Excellence were completely destroyed by fire.

Teacher Raquel Harrington says the blaze took an emotional toll on everyone, especially students who saw the news that night.

"It was sad. There were a lot of tears. There was a lot of anxiety and questions. Students would ask, 'why did this happen? My mom had to buy everything all over again,'" said teacher Raquel Harrington.

"I prayed that everybody would be okay and that the school would be built back with no problems," said 7th grader Janiqueeka Chandler.

School director Otis Young says he is optimistic about this year, but says his faith has been tested over and over. Last week he thought the 15 portable classrooms the school is leasing would be ready.

"Somewhere around Thursday evening I get a call that we won't be able to come in Monday like we thought. At this time, my back is against the wall," explained Young.

Tallahassee Community College opened its door for the school to hold classes, just as a host of other agencies have done this past year.

Young says out of the blaze came a number of blessings.

"I think we are much better for going through this process. Through the midst of everything that happened, the strong and weak were separated. Now, we have a strong core group of individuals that are sincere and love teaching," added Young.

An official with the Tallahassee Fire Department said the blaze caused more than half a million dollars in damage. The cause of the fire is still undetermined.

The school is leasing all 15 portables for about $11,000 a month. School officials hope to have a new facility up in about three years.


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