On Feb. 7, Danielle Tucker instructed her lesson to her fourth grade class at Schaumburg Elementary School. While teaching, Tucker’s students noticed the lack of sunlight from the windows. She opened the door, that lead to the outside of her classroom and saw clouds above. Seconds later, students gathered into the hallways and crouched for safety, as the wind from a tornado blew through the school’s corridors.
Maurice McMorris, Principal of Schaumburg Elementary, located at 9501 Grant St., said that the school’s building was structured to protect students. “However, when one door is open, it creates a wind tunnel,” McMorris said. As wind entered the building at 11:25 a.m., teachers covered students, while watching the tornado pass the front of the school.
“I was more worried about my students than myself,” Tucker said.
McMorris allowed students to return back to homeroom, after the tornado was over, after crouching down for about 30 minutes. “Teachers played instructional games with them and tried to keep them from crying,” said McMorris. Some students cried because of what they experienced, as well as being concerned about their siblings and parents.
The tornado destroyed Gale Perry-Johnson’s first grade classroom. When the storm passed over, Gale Perry-Johnson did not let students enter the room. Ceilings crumbled and light fixtures fell because of the wind, making it a safety hazard to students. “I covered the (door’s) window with paper,” Perry- Johnson said.
“I did not want any of my students to see what happened.”
Now, teachers are wondering how to regroup with students, when they meet again. Shanuntrell Demesme, Schaumburg Kindergarten teacher, wants to teach her students about natural disasters.“For my enrichment, I am going to go over tornados,” Demeseme said. “it is a weather thing a force of nature, and nothing we can control.”
However, older students also want answers to what they experienced. Jarron Bailey, seventh grader, said the situation frightened him. “It was tragic, but the teachers were supportive” said Bailey. Andrew Hill, eight grader, was fearful as well. Hill said,“We kept thinking, we are going to die today.”
McMorris was grateful that no one was hurt from the natural disaster. “I’m so proud of my colleagues,” McMorris said. “Every morning, we circle in prayer and ask for a fence of protection around our school. And that fence of protection was here, everything around us feel apart.” The roof to the school was destroyed, however McMorris is grateful.
“It did its job, it kept us safe.”
Students Hill and Bailey were happy to receive a little break from school, but are uneasy about returning back.“We are not ready for school because I know it is not going to be the same anymore,” Hill said.
Schaumburg Elementary School is a part of Renew Charter School. They are offering professional counseling services for students upon return. McMorris said it is the charter’s plan to relocate Schaumburg to Gaudet Elementary located at 12000 Hayne Blvd,. According to Nola.com, school will resume on Feb. 15.