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Fire Gutted Meridian Middle School in 1989

February 2, 2007

By Bill Roberts, The Idaho Statesman, Boise

Feb. 2–The fire that gutted Middleton High School on Thursday brought back memories to Bev Bradford.

She was principal at Meridian Middle School when its main building burned during Memorial Day weekend in 1989.

“I lost all my memorabilia of my career to that point,” said Bradford, now retired from Meridian School District.

School officials ended Meridian Middle’s year immediately and concentrated on trying to open the school for fall, Bradford said.

It wasn’t easy.

“All our equipment was gone,” said Trish Duncan, then a secretary in the counseling office. “Any kid that had stuff in their lockers, (it) was burned up. Books were gone. The library burned for quite a while from all the books we lost.”

Duncan remembers trying to resurrect students’ records by photocopying bits of paper that weren’t ash.

“We finally had to give up on it,” said Duncan, now Meridian District board clerk. “It was too much.”

In just three months, Meridian District had to resurrect the school. That meant buying bunches of school supplies: pencils, pens, paper clips, three-ring binders.

“By the time you go out and buy a whole school of that stuff, it adds up,” said Jim Correia, the district’s controller.

The district arranged for portable buildings to be rolled onto the area where students once practiced driver education.

The district opened Meridian Middle on time the next fall. The biggest problem educators faced was a lack of science labs because all the supplies were lost, Bradford said. But the science teachers made “kitchen labs,” which use a slightly more primitive approach to teach their lessons, Bradford said.

Bradford’s strongest memory, she said, is the work of her staff during that summer. They didn’t quit, she said.

“All the administrators and all the teachers pulled together,” she said. “They really made it work.”

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Idaho Statesman, Boise

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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