ROSEVILLE, CA – Graduation will go on at Roseville High School despite a fire that damaged the stage where hundreds of seniors were set to receive diplomas Friday, school officials said.
"I was really sad," graduating senior Samantha Cheek said. "It's hard enough for us to graduate. We're sad to leave. For someone to sabotage what's supposed to be a big day is disappointing."
"At first I was mad because it's our stage we have to walk across," senior Hayley Road added. "But then I was sad because it resembled all four years here. And it was gone."
Police said the blaze was deliberately set. Police spokesperson Dee Dee Gunther said officers received a call of smoke coming from the high school stadium around 1:20 a.m. Thursday.
Arriving Roseville officers and firefighters found the graduation commencement stage and a section of the football field on fire.
Crews put out the fire but the damage had already been done. The new stage that was set up for seniors to walk across was burned to the ground along with two podiums. The turf was also destroyed. School district officials estimated the cost to repair the fire damage at $100,000.
The Roseville Police Department youth service officer assigned to Roseville High School identified two Roseville High seniors as suspects. Roy Jordan Loya, 18, and a 17-year-old boy were subsequently arrested on suspicion of arson, felony vandalism, and conspiracy, Gunther said.
The teens were arrested before school was dismissed and were seen being escorted handcuffed and placed into the back of police cars.
The fire was on the last day of school. As students said their goodbyes to one another, they were disturbed to find out who was responsible.
"I've gone to school with them all four years," Cheek said. "It was pretty disappointing. I didn't think it was someone from our class. It was pretty senseless.
"It's pretty tragic," Jose Arellano said. "Our own classmates burning our own stage we're going to walk later on tomorrow?"
Students say it was supposed to be an end-of-the-year prank but one that went way too far.
The two suspects face allegations of arson, vandalism, and conspiracy.
"It was really stupid, " Lacey Lowrie said. "And it cost all of us to go through extra lengths to walk the stage or any stage."
School officials rented a new stage for Friday's graduation ceremony.
Officials say the two suspects will still graduate from high school and receive their diplomas. Loya is in custody at the Roseville Jail while the 17-year-old is in custody at juvenile hall in Auburn.