WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 10, 2010, 10:53 AM

Lidgerwood Fire: Teacher starting over after losing classroom to fire

Lidgerwood, ND (WDAY TV) - For the 2nd time in 10 years, school officials in Lidgerwood are looking for new places to hold classes. Fire destroyed at least 2 classrooms and caused extensive smoke damage.

Superintendent Tony Grubb is meeting with local officials and other school leaders to figure out what to do next. After the last fire in 1999, the elementary students stayed in town at local churches and community centers. The high school students traveled the 13 miles to Wyndmere.

Grubb expects something similar this time. He's planning an all staff meeting for Monday.

“If we can get a local and kind of give them information of what we know right now, we don't have enough information to give them that they don't already know.”

The school has about 180 students.

The teacher who teaches in the room where the fire started has taught at the school for 37 years. Today she's in shock, having lost everything in the fire.

Fire crews spent the morning going through Lovonne Guethner's classroom. A light inside guided them through the black room filled with charred desks and debris.

"I've lost all my teaching materials, all my books, all my tests. There are 37 years in that classroom, 37 years of teaching and right now I pretty much have nothing. So for me it's going to be starting over."

Guethner was born and raised in Lidgerwood graduating from the high school then returning right after college to teach to English. She was in the room next to hers when the fire started just after 5.

"By the time I got in the hallway there was a lot of smoke in the hallway because the janitors had already opened up my classroom door and the smoke was so thick in there that I didn't even chance going in there."

After the last fire, high school students came to school here in Wyndmere. Guethner says she has no preference where her new classroom is, she just wants to be in it as soon as possible.

"I love education. That's why I've been in it for so long and that's why I tutor after school because I love the kids and I love doing what I’m doing. I think we need to get the kids back on track. Too much time away from the classroom is just too much information that's lost in between."

She's spent more time in this building than anywhere else and now is gearing up for another displacement before getting back to the sounds of busses, kids and bells back at her school.

The last fire closed down the school for about 20 days, but in this fire, the structural damage is far worse.

Students at Lidgerwood are trying to keep things as close to normal as possible, especially some athletes who are gearing up for the some big games.

Senior Brock Wieber will quarterback the Warbirds in the State Championship game Friday. He says the upcoming game is allowing them to focus on something other than the fire, but the region volleyball tournament last night was postponed.

“I just hope it doesn't cause that big of a distraction to either team, especially the girls because they're supposed to be playing here in Lidgerwood and now they have to go travel for the regionals.

The volleyball tourney was moved to Lisbon.