CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A group of students at a local private school toured Notre Dame just hours before fire broke out and destroyed the iconic cathedral.
Sixty-one students who attend Calvary Academy in the northern Cincinnati suburbs of Springdale are on a field trip through Europe, according to the school’s Facebook page.
A stop in Paris Monday went from euphoria to heartbreak as flames swept through the nearly 900-year-old building, bringing the cathedral toppling down, just 9 hours after the group went through, school officials confirmed Tuesday.
Assistant Principal Stephanie Bienz, who is with the students, called into the school to report they were OK in case concerned parents inquired.
She shared their experience in an emotional Facebook post:
“My full heart has turned to sadness as I witnessed first hand the burning of Notre Dame cathedral tonight,” she wrote. "Only 9 hours earlier I had rushed my students through the echoing halls and briefly admired the incredible gothic architecture that makes up the most recognizable cathedral in all of France and arguably the world.
"Only 9 hours earlier we had hurriedly read the building’s history through 12 centuries. Only 9 hours earlier I had wished for more time to show my students the beauty of this famous monument standing proud in the Ile de la Cite!
“Only 9 hours. What a difference a span of nine hours can make,” she wrote.
“Albeit rushed and hurried, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to feast upon its beauty one more time, and to share this cathedral in all its splendor with my students before history happened and changed our view of the world forever. Praying for a City who has felt a loss tonight in their collective culture, and I’m thankful that there were no injuries. #foreverparis #forevernotredame #myheartmycity #prayforparis🇫🇷 @ Notre Dame de Paris."
The fire is now extinguished as attention turns to ensuring the structural integrity of the remaining building after the devastating blaze.