Graduation plans continue despite Lanham apartment building fire

Graduating seniors often look forward to the day they will march down the aisle and receive their diplomas or degrees.

For one high school senior, there was worry over the Memorial Day weekend that a fire at the Lilly Garden Apartments in Lanham, Maryland, may have burned up a key item needed for her graduation ceremony — the robe.

“The fire brought everything down. I had planned my accessories, what to wear and everything. I was really happy,” said Jennifer Baires, a graduating senior from Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County.

Baires told WTOP she was able to retrieve her robe on Tuesday.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE: A high schooler’s graduation robe was spared after a fire at her Lanham apartment complex over the weekend. (Courtesy Jennifer Baires)

“We got to talk with the manager at the apartments and they let us in just to get that out. So I feel more relieved, since I have gotten that out. And a couple of [other] things, since it was so quick. We could only go in for a quick few minutes,” she said.

Baires said her family was planning a big celebration Saturday to mark this milestone, but they’ve had to scale it back some.

“I’m just glad that my family and I are safe,” she said, noting that instead of a larger festivity, they may “buy a small cake and just celebrate [graduation] with my family, since we’re staying over with my aunt.”

“We might just [celebrate] with her kids and everything. Just a small cake, but it’s not going to be like we thought it was going to be.”

Baires is graduating from Parkdale Thursday, less than seven days after the fire upended her and her family’s lives.

She told WTOP her plans for next year remain the same.

“I was planning to work. I was going to go to college … That’s still the plan,” she said.

Baires plans to attend Prince George’s Community College and find a job to help her family pay household expenses, “but now, it’s sad to say, that we don’t have a home for now.”

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