The Norman Transcript

Local news

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
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Chamber Banquet During annual banquet, Chamber of Commerce promotes moving Norman forward

    Amidst the backdrop of music, dancing, dinner and fellowship, business leader Mike Fowler announced that the time for a quality-of-life initiative in Norman has come. As incoming Norman Chamber of Commerce board chairman, Fowler and ...

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Symposium speaker Paul Polik: Commerce can help and bring millions out of poverty

    How to harness the power of commerce to address social and environmental challenges in sustainable ways was the topic of discussion at the University of Oklahoma Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth’s fourth annual Social ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Amber waves turn gray as farms lose younger generation

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Jerry Pfeiffer was thrilled when his son, Kelsey, 25, announced plans to return to the family’s farm in Orlando....

    April 18, 2014

  • Postal retiree luncheon set

    A postal retiree luncheon will be 11:30 a.m. Monday at Golden Corral Buffet and Grill, 123 N. Interstate Drive in Norman. Diners will meet in the lobby. For more information, call Joyce Carle at 872-5157....

    April 18, 2014

  • Flapjack fundraiser set

    The Apple Gold Group, a franchisee of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar, will partner with the Global Outreach Team at Go Church to host a Flapjack Fundraiser on April 26. Proceeds raised will be used by team members to purchase ...

    April 18, 2014

  • OU Hornsemble goes to the movies

    The OU Hornsemble will present a concert of music from the cinema at 6 p.m. April 27 in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall. Billed as “Movie-Time Music,” the ensemble will present a wide variety of cinematic music from the 1940s to the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Woman bound over for trial

    A Slaughterville woman facing a manslaughter charge after the death of an 8-year-old child was bound over for trial this week after a preliminary hearing in Cleveland County District Court. Kimberly Dawn Wenthold, 29, was charged in ...

    April 18, 2014

  • MNTC campaign focuses on dangers of texting while driving

    Students enrolled in Moore Norman Technology Center’s Career Exploration Education class are taking a class project that they feel strongly about to an involved level within their community. They are raising awareness among their high ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Fighting to rid world of polio

    A small crutch leaned against a podium inside an Oklahoma Memorial Union room Wednesday evening. It was a prop, retrieved and held aloft by Shawn Arnold as he described his early battle with polio....

    April 18, 2014

Video
Facebook