After a devastating fire, a helping hand

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PHOTO COURTESY OF April Maxwell-Henley

Students at the Life Center Academy School will attend school in neighboring Willingboro through the end of the school year

It was all cheers as 230 students from the Life Center Academy School entered their temporary space in neighboring Willingboro on April 3.

PHOTO COURTESY OF April Maxwell-Henley

A fire displaced the students in kindergarten through 12th grade from their school two weeks ago.

The community has been rebuilding after an eight-alarm fire destroyed the Fountain of Life Center church and damaged the school on site in Florence.

The fire – Burlington County’s largest fire emergency since 2013 – began around 6 p.m. March 20, fire officials said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT

The Willingboro Board of Education (BOE) showed solitary and unanimously voted to allow The Life Center Academy School to utilize one of district’s vacant school buildings at a meeting on March 27. This will allow staff and students to continue the quality of learning in a school-based atmosphere that promotes in-person instruction in classrooms with teachers, according to Willingboro Board president April Maxwell-Henley.

PHOTO COURTESY OF April Maxwell-Henley
PHOTO COURTESY OF April Maxwell-Henley

“We’ve all seen this heartbreaking disaster take place right before our eyes on multiple news outlets,” Maxwell-Henley said at the meeting. “The Fountain of Life Center Church is definitely no stranger to the Willingboro community. Some of our residents of Willingboro either attend Fountain of Life Center Church or their children attend the private school at Life Center Academy.”

There was no hesitation when the call came to step in to help. Interim Superintendent Dr. Malcolm X. Outlaw, the Willingboro BOE positively responded to the call.

“It’s what we do in education and as the board president, it’s what I personally do as a ministry – help people in their time of need,” Maxwell-Henley said. “We need the kids back in school. It is imperative that we make the right decision. We’re all in this together and I believe just as fast as we responded to the ‘call’ for Life Center, someone would help us in our time of need. This is why we need to support Life Center Academy.”

At the meeting the Willingboro BOE took time to show love and compassion for Life Center’s Pastor Matthew Boudin, Senior Paster Matthew Boudin and the school’s Headmaster and Principal Tracy Cossabone and to support the families impacted by the fire.

The students plan to attend the school in Willingboro through the end of the school year with hopes of going back to their home school in the fall.