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Oklahoma tornado survivor allowed back at Plaza Towers Elementary School

by Jennifer Palmer Modified: August 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm •  Published: August 28, 2014

The phrase on the cover of last year’s Plaza Towers Elementary School yearbook now rings true for one student who lived through the deadly EF5 tornado on May 20, 2013.

It reads: “Once a Panther ... Always a Panther.”

Over the summer, Moore Public Schools denied a transfer request to Porter Trammell, 10, whose family lives in a rental house outside of Plaza Towers’ boundaries because their in-boundary home hasn’t been rebuilt. The Oklahoman featured Porter’s story on Monday’s front page.

Shortly after that publication, the school reconsidered and found space for Porter, 10, and his brother, Lucky, 7. The boys started attending class at Plaza Towers on Wednesday.

“They still feel like family,” said the boys’ mother, Lora Trammell.

“They all went through a horrible situation, and they feel like brothers and sisters.”

Trammell’s home, at 1325 Ridgeway Drive, was destroyed in the tornado. The lot where it used to sit stands empty and overgrown. Trammell said she hired a builder, but he hasn’t started work. The family had hoped to be back on their lot by now.

Porter was in third grade when the storm hit, and he survived after being shielded by his teacher, Jennifer Doan. Doan has since married and changed her last name to Rogers.

Porter’s friend, Nicolas McCabe, was one of seven students at the school who died.

After being back at Plaza Towers just two days, Porter said he has seen some old friends, and he’s made new ones, too.

He’s soft-spoken — a sharp contrast to his outgoing younger brother.

He says his favorite part of fifth grade is science, and he loves to build with Legos.

Transfer rules

Moore waived its transfer policy for the 2013-14 school year, allowing students to attend the school they went to before the tornado, regardless of their address.

Plaza Towers students spent the year in temporary quarters on the Central Junior High School campus.

Last week, the rebuilt Plaza Towers began the school year with about 400 students. The district said it allows transfers if space is available.

Robert Romines, superintendent of Moore schools, said transfer decisions are made by individual schools.

He wouldn’t comment on Porter’s situation. Plaza Towers’ principal did not return phone or email messages Thursday.

by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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