By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer
Highland Middle School was evacuated Monday morning after a teacher noticed smoke in the showers of the boys' locker room at the east gym about 8:20 a.m.
The staff evacuated the school's 820 sixth- through eighth-graders safely from the Granger Township building and over to the high school nearby.
Most parents picked up their children, and the few remaining students spent the rest of the day in study hall and rode school buses home.
Firefighters haven't said what started the fire, district communications director Dawn Marzano said.
She said there is smoke and fire damage to the gym, locker room, parts of a hallway and a few classrooms.
The Granger Township Fire Department and several other departments responded. The state fire marshal also is investi
The staff was allowed inside the building briefly to collect purses and keys, Marzano said. Otherwise, the fire marshal did not allow anyone to return to the building on Monday to retrieve personal items.
Marzano said classes are canceled for today and possibly longer.
''We're hopeful that they'll be back on Wednesday, but we can't say for sure,'' Marzano said.
Superintendent Catherine Aukerman told the Highland school board Monday night that the fire started in the shower area of the locker room and was contained to that area.
She said crews would work around the clock to remove soot from throughout the building and repair the gym.
Firefighters cut three small holes in the roof that need to be repaired and ceiling tiles must be replaced in the hallway outside the gym and in a nearby music room.