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Defying the odds: Brandon school damaged by lightning weeks ago readies for the first day

Posted at 8:25 PM, Aug 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 23:17:34-04

BRANDON, Fla. — It took a small army and support from everyone at Hillsborough County Public Schools to get McLane Middle School in Brandon safe for students.

“Don’t let this smile fool you, the pressure is on,” Principal Dina Langston said. “I need everybody to be at peace, so Sunday night they can go to sleep and be ready for Monday.”

RELATED: Lightning strike causes fire at Brandon middle school, officials say

On July 20, one building was hit by lightning that caused a massive fire and part of the roof to collapse.

Langston said crews had to demolish the building. Where it once stood is now green space. 

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Students will use the area for outside science projects. Langston said they always knew the middle school had enough space to accommodate the lost classrooms. The main concern was getting the building, constructed in 1917, down without damaging other nearby classes.

“We are ready to go on Monday. It has been an amazing Army to get us up and running,” Langston said.

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Teachers ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska spoke to said they would be working over the weekend to get their classes ready. Years of school items and memories were lost in the fire.

“I saw it on the news, and I thought I think I can get some of my stuff, but they wouldn’t let us go into the building at all,” Caroline Boykin said. Boykin teaches 7th-grade math. 

“It was devastating. A lot of things that students had given to me over the years since I’ve been teaching like letters and notes they give me at the end of the year all of that is gone too.”

Despite the losses, everyone is ready for the first day on Monday.