Final touches are being done to this hallway at Oconto High School, Friday, May 9, 2014. (WLUK/Kelly Schlicht)
OCONTO- From widespread smoke damage, to sparkling new.The hallways of Oconto High School are ready to open to students once again.Classes at the school start on Monday. Friday, school officials showed the building off."We're just so excited," said Tori Hipke, a junior.There was an almost celebratory clink of the beakers, as students helped re-organize a science classroom.The Oconto Fire Chief says three weeks ago, a sixteen-year-old student started the fire smoking in a bathroom.Hallways were blackened with smoke damage.Now look at the walls--pure, clean, white paint."I'm not used to it. Everything is like, changed. Bright white walls. All of our murals are gone," said Hipke."I feel like people put so much work into it and now it's just, they're not there anymore," said Natalie Flint, a senior."I look down the hallway to the social studies hallway and the mural's not there," said Hipke.Other murals farther from the source of the fire were salvaged.We went into this boys' room, where the fire started.Now, you'd never know it. The tiles and porcelain gleam.They've replaced plastic partitions in the stalls where the fire started with metal ones, which are more flame resistant.Crews also installed a smoke detector in the bathroom. It didn't have one before."Oh, this is amazing!!!! Wow," said Superintendent Sara Croney, as she surveyed the work.Croney said more renovations could be on the way.The district may seek a November referendum for sprinkler systems, and more."We were going for a heating system that costs near three million, we were going for a roof that is nearly two million. And other plumbing upgrades and such that none of the fact that we had a fire fixed. That's still there," said Croney.Croney says the restoration company is still tallying up the total for this current project.Both believe it will be within the 5 million dollar estimate. All but five thousand dollars' worth of that cost is covered by insurance.The Oconto County District Attorney has the case.However, it is unclear if any charges will be filed against the teen that started the fire. The police said it was started accidentally.
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