Sauk Rapids community rallies behind elementary school damaged by fire

An outpouring of support is coming from the Sauk Rapids community after a fire damaged several elementary school classrooms last month.

“We lost four classrooms to start with, but we’re already an overcrowded school,” said Pleasantview Elementary Principal Aby Froiland.

The fire broke out January 13 in the attic of portable classrooms, which were brought on as temporary units 25 years ago. 

Four third grade rooms were destroyed or damaged. The classes moved into other spaces at Pleasantview Elementary in Sauk Rapids, but the transition hasn’t been easy.

“We’re just so overcrowded and you don’t think about things, like we don’t have lockers for third graders, so it feels like we have coats and boots everywhere laying around in our building and we have no storage as you can see, so we lost a lot,” said Principal Froiland.

Two days after the fire, a school supply drive by radio station Spirit 92.9 brought an overwhelming response, which helped replace all the notebooks, markers and folders the kids lost. Now comes another fundraiser for the teachers.

Mikayla Zaske is president of the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School Honor Society. When she was younger, Zaske went to Pleasantview. After learning about the fire, she and her fellow students decided to hold a fundraiser at the area Chipotle to replace items teachers supplied with their own money. 

“Our supervisor was talking about how a lot of the elementary school teachers accumulate all these books,” said Zaske. “One of the teachers has a wish list on Amazon and there’s a pretty decent-sized list of things they still need and that was just that one teacher I think.”

It’s possible insurance might cover some of those personal losses, but it remains uncertain. The funds also may not arrive quickly.

“It’s just good - kids helping other good kids, right?” said Principal Froiland. “And totally something we didn’t ask for at all … just a credit to those great kids up at the high school who are willing to do that and take it on.”

The fundraiser will be held Monday, February 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chipotle located on 5th Avenue South in St. Cloud. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Officials are still determining what items can be saved from the classrooms and are planning a long-term solution to house all their students.