Heavy in the heat of the air we could feel it as we walked to school that morning. The wind was gusting all about us. Clouds rolled so quickly that the moon was seen only in glimpses. “I saw it mom, no now it’s gone. There it is again” my littlest said.
“Storms brewing’ guys it might actually rain today.” We had been in the middle of a two month drought. I told my kids as I dropped them off at school that morning.
Working the lunchroom later that morning there was endless chatter among the adults as to when the bad weather would hit our area. Without warning the tornado sirens went off inside the building as well as outside. The whistle blew by the person in charge in the cafeteria within 3 to 4 minutes all 400 children were lined up in a crouched position hands over heads and there I stood among them. The teachers double checked the other building to make sure all were in their presence. The principal sent out an automatic phone call to all parents that the children were safe and were being cared for.
The teachers were calm, the students quiet as we listened to the news report on the radio. As the time seemed to stand still the students were allowed to sit up and relax. The sky was dark gray and threatening, the rain hitting hard upon the school roof. A few children were crying in true fear that a tornado would kill them at any moment. Those children were consoled by their teachers. Others held the belief that it was just a drill. From the far corners The Hail Mary could be heard by the 7th graders. A slight tension filled the air and a few volunteers from the lunchroom were texting loved ones from their phones. Within 30 minutes it was over and all the children were sent back to their perspective areas, lunch, classrooms, restroom breaks.
As I breathed my sigh of relief I found my youngest child and held him tight for a moment worried that because of his fear of storms he might have been crying during the emergency. He looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said “Mom I was in the safest spot and besides it was just a drill!” Relieved to know he had not panicked I was able to check on all of my children and they were ok. I was very proud of our teachers and principal that they were able to keep calm and in control with kindness in the midst of such an intimidating situation. My oldest son told me later that day “Mom I really wasn’t scared.” I replied “Ethan, the time to put your head down and start praying is when you see the teachers hit their knees because then it’s really happening.” On the way home from school we all talked about the experience and had lots to share with Daddy at the dinner table that evening.
It is in emergency situations that you witness people as they truly are; scared, panicked, worried, calm, in control, or prayerful, and quiet. I am proud to say that my children attend a school with a staff and teachers that are kind, prayerful in control and very conscious of the needs of their students. It was as if I was with a big family in those 30 minutes and I am proud to say St. B is part of my family!