Students return from Spring Break trip to Notre Dame Cathedral, react to fire

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Across the globe, people watched in disbelief as the Notre Dame Cathedral in France caught on fire and burned for approximately nine hours on Monday.

According to reports, fundraising has topped hundreds of millions of dollars, as France vows to rebuild and restore the historic cathedral, which is more than 800-years-old.

A report from the Associated Press cites French President Emmanuel Macron saying he wants to see the cathedral be rebuilt within five years.

"We will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral even more beautiful," he said in a televised address.

But the news isn't just impacting those in Europe. Several people in South Central Kentucky took to social media on Monday, sharing their pictures and memories of when they once visited the landmark. Even those who have never traveled abroad, were busy posting messages of hope and best wishes for France.

For some local students, the news of this fire is hitting extremely hard.

During Spring Break, just two weeks ago, 23 students and 12 teachers from Warren East High School took a trip to Europe. On April 2, they toured Notre Dame Cathedral.

"It was just kind of shocking. We were there just two or three weeks ago and now it's just gone and it'll never be the same," said Seth Blaine, a sophomore student who went on the trip.

For several students, like senior Mason Jones, it was their first trip over-seas.

"It was amazing to see all the different architecture and structures in the cities," he said.

Of course, no one realized that within a few weeks, the cathedral would catch fire. Now, they're comparing their pictures to the damage they're seeing online and on T.V.

"I still haven't gone through all of my pictures yet, and I'm just like, 'Wow, it'll never be the same,' and I'm glad I got to see it now," added Evie Hendrix, a junior at Warren East.

Patrick White, a teacher at the school, sponsored the trip. He said he was in shock watching the news about the fire.

"That was just heartbreaking to see something that for so long I've talked about and used in class and then, it's not going to be the same."

Mr. White added, "Being there for me was realizing history is more than just 1776. I love my country, but man, the architecture and the dedication that went into this, it's different."

The cathedral may not be exactly the same after the fire, but officials from France are reporting that many of the famous elements are safe. According to reports, the spire and the oak wood roof were destroyed, but the two bell towers and the front facade were saved. The Associated Press reports the three stained-glass rose windows will be assessed by an expert after suffering heat damage, but they're not destroyed, either.

"The biggest thing for this trip, and I'm glad the kids got is, the world's bigger than Bowling Green. This is a very, very small town in a very, very large world, so 23 kids got a chance to see that larger world," said Mr. White.

Here in America, people are pledging to help. The president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana said the school will donate $100,000 to renovations.

According to the latest reports, officials have questioned about 30 people as the investigation into the fire continues.

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