Clarence Jairrells, Ed.D., (Class of 1943), stills recalls the circumstances that surrounded the burning of the school. Indeed, he was in attendance and in the building when the fire started. He described the event in an interview for the RCTS documentary "Behind These Silent Walls." He confirmed that the fire started on the second floor and spread quickly throughout the wood framed building. According to him, students were very concerned about preventing their possessions from being burned, especially their precious band instruments. He recalled throwing an instrument through a window of the burning building before escaping himself, only to be informed that the instrument was not his. Foolishly, he said he returned to the building to get his instrument.
Dr. Jairrells is one of RCTS’ most accomplished graduates and was the first of its graduates to earn a doctorate. He left RCTS as a 12th grade student to enter military service and fight in World War II. After his tour of duty, he earned his General Education Degree (GED). He graduated from AlabamaState College (B.A.), Indiana State University (M.A.) and the University of Alabama (Ed.D.). He attributed his academic and professional success to the education he received at RCTS and spoke fondly of the competence of his teachers and the importance of classroom discipline.
First, second, and third grade RCTS students were educated between 1943-1948 at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church located on Henry St. in the Hill City/Newtown section of Roanoke while a replacement RCTS school building was being built.
 Gene Thornton (’62) interviewed Dr. Clarence Jairrells at his home in Anniston, Alabama for the RCTS documentary, Behind These Silent Walls, in January of 2005.