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Harlem School Teams With Barnes & Noble to Replace Books Destroyed in Fire

By Gustavo Solis | January 21, 2015 4:42pm
 A fire at the small school on 120th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard destroyed their library and most of the equipment inside.
Fire at Mount Pleasant Christian Academy
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HARLEM — A small Christian school that lost most of its books and computers during a recent fire is teaming up with Barnes & Noble to get back on its feet.

A fire broke out on the second floor of the Mount Pleasant Christian Academy at 2009 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in early January, causing part of the library’s ceiling to cave in, falling on top of the books, school officials said.

The school lost thousands of books, dozens of computers, a new high-tech whiteboard and students' learning materials because of the fire and water damage. Luckily, none of the children were inside when the fire happened, said the school’s principal, Cheryl Brown.

“I thought it was a busted pipe when I opened the door the next morning,” said Brown, who discovered the damage. “There was water everywhere.”

Mount Pleasant, which was founded in 1982 and moved to Harlem in 2004, hasn't been able to use the school since the fire. Students have been using the public library on 124th Street and Mount Morris Park Way as a classroom, Brown added.

Shortly after the fire, the school's founder, Rev. Charles Eatman, reached out to Barnes & Nobel at 82nd Street and Broadway.

The corporate bookstore agreed to help the school raise $10,000 for repairs. For a few days starting Feb. 1, customers all over the country will be able to download an online voucher and turn it in when making a purchase at Barnes & Noble. A percentage of the purchases made with the vouchers will go toward Mount Pleasant, said Paul Trinidad of Barnes & Noble.

“Anybody can use the vouchers,” he said. “My grandmother in Idaho can use one of these vouchers there.”

The vouchers will be accepted until Feb. 5 in stores and Feb. 10 online.

Only 25 students between the ages of 3 and 19 are enrolled in the school. Each student gets an individualized curriculum and learns at his or her own pace, said Eatman.

There are also 20 people in the school’s adult education program, he added.

When they don't meet at the public library, students have been meeting in Eatman's living room.

“We just keep on going,” he said. “I don’t live far from here.”

The Upper West Side Barnes & Noble will host two events during the fundraising week. A group from the Bloomingdale School of Music will perform Feb. 3 and a choir from Mount Pleasant Christian Academy will sing Feb. 4.