LAWTON, OK (KSWO) –This weekend will mark five years since a tornado ripped through Moore killing seven students at Plaza Towers Elementary School. Talks of safe rooms in schools have become a hot topic ever since.
Thursday, Lawton Public Schools' leaders, teachers, parents and students held a Safe Room ground breaking ceremony at seven elementary schools in the district.
Workers will tear down a portable classroom and build a safe room for students at Carriage Hills Elementary School. Parents and teachers said they're excited that kids will now have a safe place to go to when storms strike the area.
"Oh we are so excited having an open space school has always been a challenge for us to keep our kids safe when a storm might be coming."Cheryl Scammahorn.
"If there is a bad storm or an intruder we can go to the safe room so nothing will get really damaged and no one will get hurt," Donovan Krusinsky.
In the past, students have taken shelter in other area inside the schools.
"We were going into rooms that did not have windows and then are hallways that's the most of our kids, it didn't feel safe to us," Scammahorn said.
"We took shelter in the hallways by the bathrooms because they were the only walls that would protect us," said Tiana Braxton.
But now, safety will no longer be a concern with the new safe room.
"They will all have ventilation, have restroom facilities they're made to withstand 250 miles per hour wind storms. They are missile impact tested with 2 by 4's traveling 100 miles per hour, they've all got muti-point locks on the doors," Corey Miller said.
The 3,000 square feet facility is made of concrete and there is enough room to shelter every student, teacher and staff.
"They're incredibly important just to provide additional space for learning with the facilities they have now this will add to the square footage of teaching space," Ryan Rebsamen said.
One parent said it feels good to know her children will be safe.
"It's extremely exciting that they're going to have a safe space that they can go to. You know we've got another baby that's coming into the school in a couple of years, so knowing that both of our kids are going to have a safe place while they're here it just makes you feel really good cause they're here 7 plus hours a day and you want to know your kids are safe," Amanda Nunez said.
When bad weather is known to strike at anytime, school leaders says safety should at the top of the list.
"Especially in Oklahoma all schools should have storm shelters because that is the way we can keep our students safe. When we have to go into bathrooms or hallways it just doesn't feel like we are in the right situation to keep the students from being harmed," Scammahorn said.
Construction will start soon and workers hope to have the safe rooms complete by May of next year. Each safe room cost about one-million dollars and they're being paid for through the 2017 school bond.
Including Carriage Hills, Sullivan Village, Crosby Park, Hugh Bish, Almore West, Edison and Woodland Hills Elementary will also get safe rooms.
School officials said a safe room will be built and Whittier Elementary School later this year.