MOORE — Principals Tammy Baker and Becky Jackson breathed a collective sigh of relief Wednesday after learning their schools will get a new storm shelter, thanks to a $500,000 donation from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
“It’s a blessing for us because the May 20 tornado came too close and then the May 31 tornado clipped our gym,” said Jackson, head of Central Elementary School, 123 NW 2. “This new addition’s going to be fabulous.”
Baker oversees about 600 students at Central Junior High School, 400 N Broadway. She said the shelter will bring a peace of mind to the school and a community affected by the deadly May 20 tornado.
“It was definitely a situation that we were unsure of what was going on,” Baker said. “Now we’ll know exactly where to go and the safest place for us, and we’re thankful for what they have done.”
The shelter will house as many as 1,600 people, including about 1,150 students who attend the adjacent schools. It is expected to be completed in spring 2015 and will double as a pre-kindergarten learning center for Moore Public Schools.
Representatives from the state Baptist organization and its disaster relief arm presented a check to school district Superintendent Robert Romines during a midafternoon gathering at the junior high to announce the donation.
“We pray that with this gift, that the ability to house 1,600 students and staff and teachers in a storm shelter will bring much peace to the hearts and minds of parents and teachers and leaders in this school district,” said Anthony L. Jordan, Oklahoma Baptist General Convention executive director.
The volunteer organization represents more than 1,800 Baptist churches throughout Oklahoma.
Romines and others, including Mikki Davis, the mother of a Plaza Towers Elementary School third-grader who was killed in the tornado, expressed their appreciation for the shelter.
“I pray that they never have to use it. But if they do, at that point, they will realize how fortunate they are,” Davis said. “The parents of these schools can be at ease because they know that their kids are safe, and that their kids will be coming home from school that day.”