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September 16, 2013

Friend School takes first step toward weathering storms

FRIEND —

Students, state representatives, county officials and other gathered in the Friend School auditorium to celebrate the groundbreaking for the school's safe rooms on Sept. 13. 

Friend School Superintendent, Alton Rawlins lead the students in the Friend Falcon fight song and several Falcon cheers were given. 

"It's a great thing," Quinton Rogers, Friend School Board of Education member said. "Our kids really raised a lot of money." 

Rogers said he is thankful to the supportive parents, students and community for putting the effort into addressing the issue of student safety during tornadoes. 

"Moore was a real eye opener," Rogers said. 

The safe room will be good for the school as well as the community, he said. 

"I think it's an innovative and practical solution," David Perryman said. 

Mike Lennier, Grady County Commissioner, said that Friend School is leading the state in addressing the issue of student safety during tornadoes. 

Since the Moore tornado, school safety has been a topic of interest, especially figuring out how to pay for safety shelters. 

"I'm glad to see a school be so proactive," Lennier said. 

Roy Easley, of Easley Associates in Enid, Okla., is the architect for the safe rooms that are to be built at Friend School. 

The safety shelters are actually shipping container boxes. There will be four of them that will be set in concrete and anchored. 

FEMA approved doors, able to withstand an F5 tornado, will be in place. 

Using the shipping container boxes makes the safety shelter more cost effective than a standard FEMA safety shelter which can run $500,000 to $700,000, Easley said. 

Easley designed a similar safety shelter for Fort Supply School in Fort Supply, Okla., he said. 

Paul Townsend, maintenance supervisor, will be overseeing as well as welding and coordinating contractors. Each shipping container is 8 x 40 feet, he said. 

Over $25,000 was raised for the storm shelter by the Friend School community and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau donated $25,000 to Friend School via the Shelter Oklahoma Schools fund. $50,000 is the estimated cost of the same room, Rawlins said. 

The students who raised the most money, Emily Ortega, Shelbie Caverness, Jacob Caverness and Abri Dunn, posed for pictures with golden shovels.

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