STILLMORE, GA (WTOC) - Cindy Britt stacked the David Emanuel Academy yearbooks she thought she'd never see again. The first print arrived last month, just days before her classroom and the rest of her building burned to the ground from a lightning strike. The book company offered, at first, to reprint for one third the original cost.
"We were thrilled with that, then they called back and dropped it to $3,000," explained Britt, the yearbook advisor. "Then a week later, she called and said she'd arranged for them to be at no charge and we were ecstatic."
The school has called their book "The Aftermath" every year for decades. This year, it takes on new meaning as it reminds them of their loss.
"We always took pictures on the front steps and they're not there anymore so these are the last ones with that building," she added.
Headmaster Marion Shaw said a variety of companies have offered free help to replace the 100-year-old building. But the memories that will be in the book couldn't be substituted.
"The kids would have paid again for them, particularly the seniors, that's your senior yearbook," he assured.
Britt and her yearbook staff document the entire year, all the way to graduation, then distribute the edition the following fall. She noted several graduates from the class of 2010 have called from colleges around the state, anxious to know when they or their parents can pick up their copy.
Another box in Ms. Britt's room holds calculators donated by Texas Instruments to replace those lost in the fire.
"It hadn't made it okay that it burned down. But it makes it better to deal with," Britt explained.
She says to generations of DEA Eagles, this may be the most precious Aftermath of all. In addition to the new book, Herff Jones Yearbooks found several editions from previous years and sent them to replace those lost in the fire.