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If practice makes perfect, students at Crittenden-Mt. Zion Elementary will be more than ready if a tornado ever threatens safety at the school.
Just a few days after the one-year anniversary of the tornado that whipped through Crittenden, CMZ was among local schools who participated in a statewide tornado drill on March 5.
Dry Ridge Elementary, Mason-Corinth Elementary and Grant County Middle School also did their tornado drill March 5 while Sherman Elementary practiced the drill March 4.
Grant County High School and Eagle Creek Academy will have their drill later this week because of ACT testing.
The drill was organized by the Kentucky Weather Preparedness Committee, working with Kentucky Emergency Management and the National Weather Service Office.
National Weather Service offices within Kentucky used a code that activated weather alert radios, outdoor warning sirens and various media broadcast warning messages.
CMZ teachers and staff guided students at approximately 10:07 a.m. to designated locations, including bathrooms and hallways without windows.
The students tucked their knees in and covered their heads for protection during the drill.
“I felt like the drill ran really well,” CMZ Elementary Principal Heather Clay said. “The prior lessons on safety have really helped prepare students for any type of crisis. We had over 550 students in the building today and everyone was in place within three minutes.”
Tornado drills are crucial for students, said Clay, because they need to be taught the proper response in any situation.
“They also need to feel as though the teachers are prepared in advance to ensure their safety,” she said. “This is why as a staff we practice all of our safety procedures prior to school starting and through-out the year.”
Grant County Schools participate in tornado drills four times each year, said Nancy Howe, public information officer.
The first drill is in the first month of school and there are three in the spring.
“In addition to this, our district office receives alerts and actively monitors for any approaching severe weather,” Howe said. “Our response will always be that we will err on the side of caution. This includes, from time to time, holding buses in safe locations rather than putting them on the road.”
Howe said Scott Shipp, director of operations, has convened a driver’s committee since last spring with one of their objectives being to determine safe locations along each route where the students and driver could seek protection when needed.
Williamstown High School Assistant Principal Todd Dupin said Williamstown was fortunate to not have much damage from last year’s tornado.
However, the administration always make sure that faculty, staff and students will be prepared in case of an emergency.
“As for precautions, we did make sure to review our procedures for severe weather with our students and staff, and we had drills,” Dupin said. “We try to do this several times a year. We also have spent some time this year updating our emergency plan for all types of situations, and have worked with local agencies and community partners in the event of an emergency.”
Although the district did not participate in the state-wide tornado drill March 5 because of students taking the ACT test, Dupin said the drill will be done in the near future.