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 Officials Ensure Boys Keep Learning During Border Fire

As the Border Fire burned large areas of rural South County, education and law enforcement officials worked together to ensure students were safe, comfortable, and learning.

Nearly 80 teenage boys attending Barrett High School at Camp Barrett were relocated late Sunday night to East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. Both facilities are run by the San Diego County Probation Department and have schools operated by the San Diego County Office of Education as part of its Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS).

Classes were canceled on Monday to give the students a chance to adjust to their new living quarters and schedules. Teachers and support employees have also had to adjust to the new situation, including some who were displaced by the fire, said Joanne Finney, principal of San Diego SOAR Academy, the JCCS program that includes both schools.

“The teachers have just been absolutely incredibly flexible,” Finney said.

The Sheriff’s and Probation departments have also been very helpful and cooperative, she said.

“They have been beyond kind and generous — really hospitable folks,” she said.

The students are expected to resume classes at Camp Barrett next week.

Sheriff’s deputies are working with the students who will be leaving the program soon to collect some personal belongings from Camp Barrett so they can take them home with them.

“It has been a really beautiful thing to see how everybody has come together to keep these boys safe, in class, and as comfortable as possible,” Finney said. “The boys are getting whatever they need.”

The employees at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility were particularly helpful to the incoming teachers, teacher Shelly Goins said.

“It was all hands on deck as they moved furniture, swept, dusted, and stocked six classrooms with the necessary supplies,” she said.

With the help of all of this preparation, the teachers were able to ensure their lessons were entertaining and substantive.

“There were lessons on calculating college and household expenses, propaganda techniques in political campaigns, and even a fierce game of Scrabble,” Goins said.