Teens graduating in California town nearly destroyed by fire

Paradise High School students pose for a selfie at the school’s football field in Paradise, Calif., Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Many students of Paradise High lost their homes when the Camp Fire swept through the area and the school was forced to hold classes in Chico. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

A Northern California town that was mostly destroyed by a wildfire is celebrating the graduation of its high school class.

About 220 seniors at Paradise High School are expected to graduate Thursday night. About 900 of the school’s 980 students lost their homes in last November’s wildfire that destroyed more than 13,000 residences and killed 85 people.

The school is still standing. But most of the buildings around it were destroyed.

The senior class will graduate on the football field, a tradition dating back to at least the mid-1960s. Senior Lilly Rickards says it’s fitting for the senior class to end where they began.

Many gathered there Wednesday night to watch the sun set.

Former Paradise Mayor Steve “Woody” Culleton said the high school is a community focal point.

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