The Norman Transcript

Headlines

May 24, 2013

Third-grader left school with minutes to spare

NORMAN — Scott Lewis picked up his son, Zack, from Plaza Towers Elementary School as hail pounded the school Monday afternoon. About five minutes after they left, Lewis said, the monster tornado smashed into the building.

Seven of Zack’s third-grade classmates were killed when the tornado knocked down the school’s walls and ceilings. Others were injured; several remain hospitalized, Lewis said.

“I just thank the Lord that I was able to get him,” Lewis said, “that he wasn’t trapped in there — or worse.”

On Thursday morning, Lewis met with reporters near Eastlake Elementary, 1301 SW 134th St., while his wife, Julie, took Zack to a program inside the school.

Students from Plaza Towers were invited to Eastlake to say their end-of-year goodbyes to teachers and friends. Students from Briarwood Elementary, which also was destroyed by the tornado, reunited at Wayland Bonds Elementary.

Lewis said his family lost their home. They’ve returned to look through the rubble, he said, where they found a box of Zack’s Matchbox cars.

Lewis said his son looked around at the destruction caused by the tornado but didn’t appear upset.

Lewis and Julie have shielded Zack from news about the storm, he said. It’s hard enough for adults to comprehend the devastation, let alone a 9-year-old.

Parents are talking to their children about the loss of life in different ways. On Wednesday evening, Lewis said he and Julie used obituaries to help Zack begin to understand.

“At some point, you have to find a way to deal with it and yet keep them safe,” he said.

They’re also trying to keep Zack’s life as normal as possible.

Events like Thursday’s help. After the tornado, Moore Public Schools canceled classes through the end of the semester. Thursday’s program was meant to give students and parents a chance to see teachers and each other and wrap up the year, Plaza Towers Principal Amy Simpson said.

She said the students, who were happy, set the tone.

“It meant everything,” she said.

A similar program will be hosted later for those who couldn’t attend Thursday’s event.

Carly Ramirez, another Plaza Towers parent, had high praise for the teachers who helped her daughter, Kamrin, 4, and the other children.

She and Kamrin came to Thursday’s program with a homemade thank-you note for her teacher.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Junior Police Graduation First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Bad year won’t dampen peachy tradition

    PORTER — A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.” Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Union Market opens this fall on campus

    Shelves are being stocked as employees buzz around like busy bees and activities are in the last stages of prep as the University of Oklahoma anticipates the opening of its new eatery Union Market, located in the Oklahoma Memorial Union in ...

    July 26, 2014

  • OU football recruit under investigation in assault case

    An attorney representing Joe Mixon confirmed Friday evening that the highly-recruited Oklahoma running back is being investigated by Norman Police in connection with an incident in which a woman suffered multiple facial fractures early ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Campus Cornerassault

    Norman Police responded to an alleged aggravated assault at the Campus Corner Pickelmans Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning....

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014