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Schools hold third tornado safety drill

Primary school students load a bus during a district-wide tornado drill Tuesday morning.Buy Photo
Primary school students load a bus during a district-wide tornado drill Tuesday morning.

The Lonoke School District held its third district-wide tornado drill since opening two safe rooms last school year. One safe room is at the high school, the second is between the elementary and middle schools.

The safe rooms were completed during the 2012-13 school year and the first drill was in February 2013, the second drill was held during the 2013-14 fall semester.

Lonoke superintendent Suzanne Bailey said this time it took about 15 minutes to transport the primary school students.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are taken to the high school safe room; first and second graders are taken to the other safe room; CORE students at the Carver Campus are taken to the high school safe room.

“It was about four or five minutes faster than last year,” Bailey said, referring to the second drill. “It was much smoother. The high school was much smoother today.”

The high school students were already in the safe room when the primary students arrived.

“They were quieter and seemed more focused that last time,” Bailey said. “I thought they did a great job.”

Lonoke School District crisis manager Patrick Matarazzo echoed Bailey’s sentiments.

“It was four-and-a-half minutes faster than it was last year,” he said, referring to the fall drill. “We were short a bus driver but were able to absorb that at the primary school and still make it run smoothly.”

Matarazzo said the second drill was slowed by the pre-kindergarten students when they had to walk to the kindergarten wing on the south end of the building. For this drill, a bus was parked next to the pre-k playground.

“They have the shortest legs and were going the farthest distance,” Matarazzo said. “We adjusted it and made it where the pre-k goes out by their door.

Principal Rebecca Reed boards the kindergarten bus after it is loaded, that bus then gets behind the pre-k bus and both leave at the same time, Matarazzo said.

Matarazzo said there wasn’t as much radio chatter on the hand radios between the administrators, bus drivers and safety personnel.

“We didn’t have to ask a lot of questions,” he said. Campus representatives were telling each other when the buses were leaving the schools and arriving at the safe rooms.

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