She lost her home in the Camp fire, but saved students’ college essays before fleeing

Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-16 18:54:45-05

PARADISE, CA (RNN) – Virginia Partain had just renovated her home before the Camp Fire took it from her last month.

As the flames approached, the high school teacher made time to grab what was important – her cats and her students’ college application essays.

"There's a part of us that we're always the teacher and they had to get their essays done to get into college," Partain told CBS News.

An English teacher for more than two decades, Partain helps seniors at Paradise High School apply for college.

One of the essays Partain saved belonged to 17-year-old Harmony Von Stockhausen.

“I’m actually really excited to be back at school. I’m glad that we at least have this and it’s bringing all the students together,” said Von Stockhausen, who wants to become a physician’s assistant.

Ninety-five percent of Paradise was destroyed by the blaze. The school was spared the wrath of the flames, but many of her students have been displaced across the country.

The school is still without power and water, so her remaining students are meeting for classes at a former LensCrafters at a mall in nearby Chico.

“We just want to bring a sense of healing back to our community,” Partain said.

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