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By Voda Beth Gradine
Last week my Facebook Memories showed it has been seven years since our elementary school burned. This is another time you will always remember where and what you were doing when you heard the news. It was a beautiful Sunday morning on September 21, 2014. We had celebrated our school homecoming with a big victory over Floydada the previous Friday night, but Tech had lost to Arkansas on Saturday.
Ronnie and I were on our way to Sunday School and church when we saw this big black cloud of smoke before we reached the top of the cap. We knew there was a big fire in Post.
The first call came into the fire station about 7:00 a.m. that the 50-year-old elementary school had flames coming out of the roof and windows. Churches met and prayed for the school and town. They gave thanks that the fire had started on a weekend and not during school.
Fire departments from Slaton, Tahoka, O’Donnell, New Deal, and West Carlisle came to help Post Volunteer Fire Department. The West Carlisle FD brought the South Plains Regional Rehab truck that gave aid to the exhausted firefighters. New Deal brought a unit to recharge the air tanks the men had to have to go in the building.
Before the day was over the fire was under control, but the building that housed the third, fourth and fifth grades was a total lose. The Primary which was connected had smoke and water damage. School was cancelled for the next week.
Along with the building all the supplies, books and furniture were also destroyed. The businesses, clubs, churches, and individuals in Post started fund raisers. Fundraising didn’t stop in Post as many school districts started offering their help. Seminole and Borden County brought truck loads of furniture, books and supplies over. Kim Mills-Oller was the person in charge of all the donations, which took all her time and energy. After only one week there had been $50,500 monetary donations and over 50 school districts and school related organizations bringing supplies and help Post ISDISD.
Post was in a new football district, playing teams we had never played before. The first district game was way down at Coleman. This is the oldest, poorest football stadium I have ever seen, but it didn’t stop them from offering help. At half time Coleman’s student council met Post student council on the fifty-yard line to present a $3,000 check and several boxes of supplies.
There were 467 students displaced because of the fire, but that didn’t slow the school district down. The new high school building, on 4th Street, was quickly completed (two weeks earlier than planned) and students moved into the new modern building. The old high school was rapidly remodeled to house the little guys and junior high remained in their building for another year.
The original elementary school opened on January 17, 1955, as the new junior high school. The sixth and seventh graders moved from the elementary school, and the eighth graders left the high school. The elementary school was later renamed primary, and the high school was the old building torn down to make the parking lot for the football field.
The new building in 1955 had 14 classrooms, a library, gymnasium, arts and crafts room, offices, teachers’ lounge, choir room and a band hall. It was a modern construction that included everything the school needed.
In 1960 the new high school was opened. At that time junior high was moved to the old high school, and fourth and fifth grade moved into this building. There was a sidewalk, a drinking fountain and nice size yards between the elementary and primary buildings.
When school started in August of 1982 an 8,500 square foot construction to connect the primary and elementary schools opened. It was a library and office space. This placed Kindergarten thru fifth grade under one roof, causing smoke and water damage to reach both buildings during the fire.
Now seven years after the fire we are back to where we were fifty years ago. We have two new schools with modern equipment. The junior high is now the oldest building, sixty years old. It shows how old a lot of us are because we think of the junior high building as the way it was when we were in school, a modern new high school building.