WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 15, 2011, 09:10 AM

Old Verona school welcomes students displaced by fire

Verona, ND (WDAY TV) - For the second time this school year, hundreds of students in Southeastern North Dakota are being displaced by a fire at their school. Students in LaMoure have been out of school the past 2-days because of smoke damage done to their building from a fire last Friday.

The fire is believed to have started in the Home Economics room sometime between 7 and 8:15 at night. School officials say elementary students can return tomorrow, but the 140 7th - through - 12th graders will be bussed to the old Verona school, 11 miles away.

GREG PEDERSEN - School Board President: “Superintendent keeps saying 4-to-6 weeks, maybe longer. It seems like everyday we stumble across another situation.”

Verona hasn't been home to a school since 2005, but starting tomorrow, its school-turned-hunting lodge, will turn back into a school for students displaced by the fire in LaMoure. The community jumped at the chance to lend a helping hand.

“Sometimes you have to deal with adversity in life, and we hope to relay that message to our students.”

A few days ago, this building in Verona was a 56-bedroom hunting lodge and community center. But not anymore, microwaves and refrigerators have been pushed to the corner to make room for tables, chairs, and chalkboards.

Marlene Dahl: “I was a teacher here and I thought oh dear, we have a dear building and there's nothing better than to keep those kids all together and if they need it, its fine.”

School officials are amazed they escaped with only missing two days of school.

Joel Bickford: “And then to have this fall our way too, we are getting a break every step of the way, so we think it's a small miracle.”

The fire started in the Home Economics room, but the school already has another one ready to go. Only this one comes with a master suite.

Bickford: “It just worked out that if we could keep them all in one place with little disruption, we didn't want to disrupt things. We wanted to be able to continue to have a school. That was real important and the number one objective of the administrative team.”

But students understand there will be some challenges.

Devin Pedersen: “New environment, we have to get restarted on everything, and it's going to be tough, but I think we can do it.”

School will start tomorrow in Verona, but students have already taken to the hardwood. The Lobo's girl’s basketball team played in the Verona gym earlier this evening. School officials told us in the worst case scenario, students could need to stay in Verona through the rest of the school year.