NJ students visited Notre Dame cathedral moments before devastating fire

Posted: Updated:

A group of New Jersey high school students visited the historic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris just moments before a devastating fire badly damaged the church.

The group was made up of mostly 11th- and 12th-graders from Leonia High School who are on a class trip. Leonia Superintendent Edward Bertolini says that the students are still trying to process what happened.

“It was surreal because a few moments before we were seeing a beautiful, historic cathedral,” he says.

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Bertolini says that the 26 students and five chaperones had just finished their tour at 6:20 p.m. and left for dinner. The fire alarms went out just 10 minutes later.

"We had sent some photos to people in New Jersey about the beauty of the cathedral and they texted us back at the restaurant, ‘Do you know that the cathedral is on fire?’” Bertolini says.

The group rushed outside to see the fire. Bertolini says that the students were very emotional about what was happening.

"We told the students last night you can rebuild a building. We don't want loss of life so they were much better after that,” he says.

The students will return to New Jersey on Saturday. Counselors will be available at the school Monday to help the students who may need to talk about what they witnessed.


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