Latham Opens Doors to New School After Fire

Related Story

LATHAM - Latham Elementary students waited more than 20 months for a new school building.

The wait is officially over.

District officials held a ribbon cutting Sunday, opening a new Latham Elementary for classes after a fire destroyed the old school building in December 2010. A neighbor woke up to find flames visible through the school's windows. The fire burned most of the old elementary school to the ground.

"At first it was disbelief. I was thinking is this for real because it was the wee hours in the morning," Rachel Swillum, third and fourth grade teacher, said.

Principal Tanya Brown heard fire trucks speeding through the town. She lived close enough to look out of her window and see the school engulfed in flames.

"Everyone was devastated. But there was never a question that we were going to rebuild. We knew we were going to rebuild." Brown said.

Since the fire, students studied in leased trailers on the school's property. The school recieved around $100,000 in donations as well as teaching materials, school supplies and computers. Most of the money for the new building came from insurance money.

Officials estimated the project cost around $1.3 million.The single-story new school building has indoor and outdoor cafeteria seating, gymnasium, classrooms, library and a computer lab.

Latham Elementary is the only school in the town of Latham. The school houses students through eight grade, then they move on to California, Tipton or Versailles for high school.

Faculty look to use the building all week preparing for the first day of classes on Sept. 4.