On January 3, the students of James Monroe Elementary School happily returned to their school after one improperly discarded, partially burning cigarette burned the school and all of its cherished memories three years ago. Even with the heroic efforts of the firefighters who risked their lives battling to save the school, it took only a few short hours for the flames to consume the school.

One student, now in the fifth grade, recalled the moment when he found out that his elementary school had been destroyed, “I was in shock and I was crying, I still remember that moment.”

Nearly 500 students, along with the faculty and staff of James Monroe Elementary School have been displaced for over two years, temporarily holding classes at the former St. Cecil’s School. An insurance payout of $19 million, along with an $18.6 million bond approved by voters, made it possible for the school to be rebuilt- with some major improvements.

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Today, students will be able to enjoy a second floor of classrooms and a new gym, stage and cafeteria. Students and staff, however, will hardly notice the most important improvement to the school, as it stands quiet guard against fire. It will save lives and it will protect property. A fire sprinkler system now stands between the students of James Monroe Elementary School and another potential tragedy.

The New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board urges that any new school built in New Jersey, and across the United States, include a fire sprinkler system in order to prevent misfortunes like the one at James Monroe Elementary from happening again. A parent should never have to worry when sending their child to school each day. Our children are our future, and they are worth the investment. We commend the Edison Board of Education for installing fire sprinklers in the new James Monroe Elementary School.