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Aspermont High School serves as a tornado shelter for city

Published On: May 22 2013 06:16:08 PM CDT
Updated On: May 23 2013 09:36:25 AM CDT
ASPERMONT, Texas -

The tornado in Oklahoma has people across the Big Country talking about school safety.

Two elementary schools in Moore were leveled by the storm – Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools.

On Wednesday, students in Aspermont ISD were outside enjoying a field day. School was almost out – no threat of a tornado existed, but in case of an approaching storm, Principal Zach Morris said Aspermont ISD is ready.

"Here in our building we house not only our high school kids but also our elementary and junior high kids as well," Morris said. "With adequate warning we're able to get all our students in here safely.”

Aspermont High School was actually built in 1966 as a bomb shelter. There are no windows and the structure is mostly underground.

"You just have your interior walls here and solid walls, no windows," Morris said. "Each classroom is completely underground."

During a tornado warning, if weather conditions are favorable the elementary school kids in Aspermont ISD walk across the street to the high school and into specific classrooms to take cover.

"They would sit up against the walls and we could generally hold three to four classes in each room," Morris said.

The school is not only a safe haven for the kids. It's also a storm shelter for the whole community.

First-grade teacher Terri Lipham said, "The siren goes off in town and everybody that does not have a cellar is welcome to come to the school to the underground school for safety."

Aspermont students said they feel safe in their school. Seventh-grade student Idalia Murgia said, "Knowing that we have a great school and it's underground, we can all be safe and we have somewhere to go if anything happens."

The school only holds tornado drills once a year, but in light of the Oklahoma tragedy, Morris said he's rethinking the process. Morris also said it only takes a few minutes for the kids to walk over from the elementary school to the high school during a tornado warning.