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Centreville school damaged in fire

CENTREVILLE — Some 250 Finch Elementary School students missed only a couple of days of school when their school in Centreville was damaged in a Nov. 3 fire.

Wilkinson County School district officials quickly mobilized to put a plan into action to bus the students approximately 13 miles away to attend Wilkinson County Elementary School in Woodville.

Centreville Fire Chief Edward Harris said the fire occurred on the night of Nov. 3.

“It was 10:55 p.m. Sunday night, Nov. 3,” Harris said. “That’s when we got paged out.”

Interim Superintendent of the Wilkinson County School District Chavis Bradford said the staffs of both Finch and Wilkinson County schools swung in to action quickly.

“The fire happened into the wee hours of Monday morning, and by Wednesday we were back in school,” Bradford said. “The greatest thing is that our teachers and staff and the principal of that school have been major, major, majorly creative. They have been creative in ensuring that education has continued for our students.”

Wilkinson County Elementary has approximately 320 students and despite practically doubling the size of the student body of Wilkinson County Elementary, Bradford said the staffs were able to make room for all of the students and to keep their original teachers assigned to them.

“We have cleaned some areas and some desks and things of that sort to ensure that our children still receive a quality education,” Bradford said. “We did what we had to do to get our children in and the principal of Wilkinson County Elementary was very helpful in ensuring that we got our students placed. Instruction has not been interrupted. We are still focusing on instruction and doing what we need to do to move our children forward.”

Bradford said dealing with the fire has not been easy, but he is grateful to the staffs of the schools and for community support.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our surrounding districts and organizations and companies,” Bradford said. “Our community has been very supportive and a lot of parents have jumped in and volunteered. We appreciate the community and the efforts that they have put forward to ensure that our children continue learning.”

Harris said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“It started in the corner of the building in the office,” Harris said. “That’s where it looks like it started to me.”

Harris would not speculate on the cause of the fire or the extent of the damage to the building, saying that would be up to the state fire marshal and insurance investigators.

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