For most students, it was classes as usual Monday at Roscoe School in Sun Valley a day after arson fires damaged three rooms in the main building. But for a few, there were tears.
"We felt like we were violated and now we're displaced," said Sondra Johnson, pointing to her fifth- and sixth-grade students preparing for class in the auditorium.
Johnson's students were moved because of noise from work crews cleaning up after the Sunday evening blaze at the elementary school in the 10700 block of Strathern Street.
Two administrative offices and a storage area were deliberately torched by one or more people who used books, files and trash as kindling to set a series of fires, said Michael Little, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
To help youngsters deal with their feelings in the aftermath of the fire, Johnson asked her students to write open letters to those responsible.
"I don't know who you are but I want to tell you that you did a really bad thing because you made us feel confused, mad, unhappy and terrified," one sixth-grader wrote.
"I bet you guys did it to prove something to your homeys," wrote another. "I also bet you think you're big men now. Well, you're not. If you were any kind of men, you would step up and admit you did it."
Also affected was a fourth- to sixth-grade class taught in Spanish that was shuffled to another room because of water damage, Principal Sharon Lee said.
Los Angeles Unified School District crews arrived before 7 a.m. Monday to begin cleaning up. By mid-morning, their progress was evident.
As workers shoveled up the charred remnants of personnel records and student registration cards, a wheelbarrow filled with fire-retardant tiles from the roof and walls of Lee's office and a reception area sat nearby, still smoking. Singed metal file cabinets, their contents unharmed, lined the dark hallway outside the burned offices.
The school clocks remained frozen at 5:32 p.m., when the electricity failed.
The power was still out at the school at 7:30 a.m., so the arriving children were served cold cereal and milk for breakfast, Lee said. By lunchtime, power was restored and the cafeteria served hot burritos, corn, canned peaches and milk.
Repairs and reconstruction could take up to three months depending on the severity of the damage, said Sara Coughlin, one of two superintendents responsible for San Fernando Valley schools.
Arson specialists from the school district's police force are investigating but have no motive or suspects, said Herb Graham, director of police and administrative services for the district.
The fire caused $15,000 in damage to the structure and $10,000 in damage to the contents, Little said.