Serious elbow grease used to repair Woodburn High after fire

WOODBURN, Ore. - Just a few months after a devastating fire, Woodburn High School will start the school year as scheduled next week.

Three students confessed to starting the fire back in May that destroyed classrooms and left most of the building with smoke and water damage.

Principal Jennifer Dixon walked a KATU News reporter through the hallways Friday to show all the work done to clean and clear as much building space as possible.

She said they are missing a few classrooms that sustained serious fire damage. The fire destroyed classrooms for band and choir and other specialty classes.

Part of the school is still unfinished. The roof of one room has its roof missing, and the room itself is gutted. Supports are in place to make sure the walls don't come down. But other parts of the school have been cleaned and rebuilt.

Dixon said while the day the school burned was overwhelming, she said Friday the tragedy was not impossible to overcome.

"More than half of the school now has had wall board replacement," she said.

Workers stripped the walls and pulled the carpet from most hallways and spent countless hours cleaning. The school is planning to build about 10 mobile classrooms to give students and staff more room until the rest of the work is done.

"We've committed to giving students the best possible experience they can have," Dixon said. "It may look a little different than it has in the past, but we're still here, we're still a community. We're still Bulldogs."

On Monday three teenagers pleaded guilty to setting the school on fire. Diego Alvarez, Miguel Garcia and Jose Zepeda avoided arson charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of seven and a half years in adult prison.

All three teens will be sentenced Monday.