EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Students and families had an emotional day at East St. Louis Senior High School on Wednesday.

“The fact that we’re leaving here has not set in yet. I don’t think that we can ever get used to the fact that we’re leaving our home,” said Jeremy Avan, a graduate of East St. Louis Senior High School.

Students said the school felt like home, and it’s upsetting to see the damage left behind from Tuesday’s fire.

“I actually saw the smoke, and I actually screamed. My heart broke,” said Ranyia Cox, a graduate of East St. Louis Senior High School. “Of course, we got to find out that it wasn’t that bad. This school is our home.”

The fire happened outside the construction and electrical classrooms.

“There were a few student sheds that were built by our construction trades program,” said Sydney Stigge-Kaufman with the East St. Louis School District. “Those, unfortunately, did not survive the fires. There were a few windows on the exterior both on the second floor and the lower level that were damaged.”

Sprinklers inside the building helped prevent the fire from spreading to other classrooms.

“We made sure that we had the students and the teachers relocated elsewhere in the campus both today as well as tomorrow,” Stigge-Kaufman. “Then restoration efforts will continue so we can make sure everything is in place for the students to begin the school year next fall.”

Students were happy to leave behind a legacy.

“It’s pure bliss. It’s so exciting we’re all just so grateful, and we all worked so hard to get here,” Cox said. “It’s kind of heartbreaking knowing this is our last time all being together.”

“I’m going to miss it because it’s just fun being with all the people and the social and academics, just trying hard to make yourself a better future,” said Tyler McFarland, another graduate of East St. Louis Senior High School.