Students, Alumni Mourn Hope High School after Devastating Fire in Arkansas

HOPE, Ark. (AP) -- Hope High School junior Lauran Pollock stood at the smoldering rubble that was her school on Sunday morning, fuming mad about the devastated building and $2,000 in destroyed decorations for this Saturday's prom.

Police say intruders broke into the high school early Sunday and set several fires that destroyed the library, computer lab and old cafeteria and caused millions of dollars in damage to the building.

But Pollock said the prom will go on. School officials were telling students they could have their dance in the auxiliary gym.

''We will do something for the decorations and it will be fabulous,'' she said.

The high school seems to have touched the lives of nearly everyone in Hope. The firefighters and police who responded to the emergency calls were alumni. When students saw the plumes of smoke they worried if they would still graduate. Some picked up bricks and pieces of paper from the original building to keep as souvenirs.

Effie Frazier, a 1948 Hope High School graduate, looked at the burned debris piled atop the original cafeteria and remembered the live music performed by eight-piece bands during the 1947 and 1948 proms.

June Reynolds, was a member of the first class to go to school in the building in 1931 when she was in the seventh grade. On Sunday she sat in her wheelchair as a 1937 alumni of Hope High School and surveyed the damage.

''It's a mess and it's a sad day,'' she said. ''It was really a nice school when it was first built.''

Reynold's daughter is a Hope alumni and is a school administrator there now. Both of Reynold's grandsons graduated from the school as well.

Don Parker, a 1939 Hope High School graduate, said the sight of smoldering pinewood and the broken bricks made him ill. His granddaughter is to graduate from the high school next month.

''I have lived here all my life, except for the three years I was in Europe during the war and this just makes me sick,'' he said.

Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey, a 1966 graduate, also has fond memories of the school.

''The building was a wonderful structure and a great facility,'' he said. ''Having this old building here is part of the reason why Hope High School was never relocated. That's why we never moved it.''

Investigators ask anyone with information about the fire to contact the state police in Hope at 870-777-4641 or the Hope Police at 870-777-3434.

On the Net: Hope Public Schools

Information from: Texarkana Gazette