Jackson students take drills seriously after Perryville tornado

Jackson students take drills seriously after Perryville tornado

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Practice makes perfect.

"Get into a kneeling position facing the wall, put your head against your knees, and your hands over the back of your neck."

Principal Samantha Trankler's voice comes over the intercom and the children at West Lane Elementary in Jackson know just what to do.

"We do tornado drills three to four times a year," said Principal Trankler.

The hope is that the students also take some of these lessons home.

"[At home] we go downstairs and pretty much do same procedures as we do here," said T.J. Altenthal, West Lane 5th Grader.

For these students, the recent tornado in Perryville was a real eye opener.

"Felt bad for those people who lost their homes," said T.J. Altenthal.

"Prior to the Perryville tornado we would have talked about the Joplin tornado because we want them to see this could happen in Jackson, Mo. and we want them to be as prepared as possible," said Trankler.

At West Lane, they are looking to make improvements.

"Almost all of our classrooms have exterior walls with very little interior space for our students to go," said Trankler.

To help with that problem, a new FEMA shelter will soon be built on the West Lane grounds, just east of the current building.

"Hope to have the funds released this month and then we can have a tornado shelter here in the middle of Jackson sometime by 2018," said Dr. John Link-Superintendent, Jackson School District.

It will be a shelter that students at West Lane and the nearby junior high school can use, plus the surrounding community.

"Not only is it important for the school to have a place to go, but it's also important for the community to have a place to go," said Dr. Link. "So anytime we can do something to protect our children, the future of our community, we have to take that extra step."

The FEMA shelter would be utilized as classroom space throughout the school year, which is much needed.

They hope they won't need to use it as a shelter, but will be ready just in case.

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