Bittersweet start for students after school fire over the summer in Shaker Heights

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SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- A bittersweet start to the academic year for students whose school was heavily damaged by fire this summer. They return to class Wednesday, but not to their historic building.

"I think that the community is really rallying together and just making the best of it," said parent Dana Hubbard.

July 10 was a sad day for students, parents and staff at Fernway Elementary School in Shaker Heights. A massive fire heavily damaged the school, displacing hundreds of students in kindergarten through fourth grades.

"It is my daughter's last year at Fernway, so we're a little disappointed, but we're making the best of it and we're excited to go to Woodbury," said Hubbard.

While the Fernway building is restored, students will be split among three other schools in the district: Boulevard, Onaway and Woodbury Schools.

"They opened the schools last night, so we all went over and could see Boulevard, which is where they'll be and got to see the classrooms and the setup and I'm at least totally happy with the way they've handled it and the accommodations for the students," said parent Stephanie Webster.

"I have two other daughters that went to Woodbury and so we know about the staff and the building, and, you know, it's sad that we're not going to Fernway, but what can we do?" said Hubbard.

People who live around the school say Fernway holds a special meaning for the entire neighborhood.

"I hear the kids in the morning going to school, then when they go out for recess and you can hear them all laughing and running around, and so I'm gonna miss that," said resident Richard Zasa.

"It's a mainstay of this area and everybody really feels that it's very much a part of the community," said resident Shelli Zasa.

Students who usually walk to school will now be bussed to class.

"My daughter, at least, is super excited to ride the bus, so kind of looking at it as a big adventure. We'll miss our school this year, but I have a lot of confidence the district will have it up and running at some point," said Webster.

Wednesday afternoon, there will be a flag-raising ceremony at Woodbury School to welcome the students who normally attend Fernway.

Continuing coverage on this story, here.

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