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Placer High art class scrambles to make up for supplies lost in fire

Room 301 in 1920s-vintage building closed after Friday morning fire
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Art teacher Kaija Perkins-Uno and her classes are back in creative mode, days after a fire forced them out of a Placer High School classroom.
The classes that normally would be held in Room 301 of a block of upper-campus classrooms on Agard Street are now being held in nearby rooms that would normally be vacant.
Perkins-Uno said that she and students are adjusting to the changes but are facing challenges because paper and other supplies sustained extensive smoke and water damage during the Friday morning fire.
“The students have been awesome about being flexible and going with the flow,” Perkins-Uno said.
Perkins-Uno added that the damage could be more extensive but she hasn’t been able to gain access to the closed classroom to see if tables and stools are still useable. Original artwork, including her own work as well as by former art teacher Mario Ferrante, was damaged in the fire, she said.
A mural on the classroom wall that a student spent most of last spring’s semester painting may not be salvageable, Perkins-Uno said. The same may go for art books and frames, she said.
A donation page has already been set up on the school’s website to help pay for replacing supplies, Perkins-Uno said.
Drake Linton, a 17-year-old student at the school, was in art class across the hall from Room 301 when the alarm rang.
“You go through all the different schools and think there’s never going to be a fire (when the alarm goes off),” Linton said.
Linton said the for-real alarm drill went well, although there was a personal sense of disbelief until he started seeing smoke pouring from the classroom.
Assistant Principal Steve Caminiti said Tuesday that the school was in the early stages of cleaning up after the fire and there was no definite date on when students could return to Room 301.
“Room 301 is the only classroom that is currently inaccessible and we have put the kids in other classrooms,” Caminiti said.
The unavailability of Room 301 would have no impact on adult education classes, Caminiti said.
Auburn Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi said that a cause for the fire had yet to be determined Tuesday. The fire is believed to have started in a small closet and was contained quickly to that area, although the classroom did sustain smoke and fire damage, he said.