Caught On Camera - Tornado Strikes School

It's chilling video to watch.

Pieces of the building being tossed around - walls blowing out.
All of it luckily happening on a day when school isn't in session.

What was once Southwestern Middle School has now become more of a construction site, as crews work in the cold to board up gaping holes a storm left behind.
This surveillance video shows the moment the tornado hit - ripping open several walls - launching debris across the floor.
And take a look down the 8th grade hallway.
Ceiling tiles and pieces of metal violently fall to the ground.

Principal Karen Smith says that's all part of the school's safety plan, one she says the county EMA director helped her design.
The same idea goes for the gym and cafeteria.
She says no students or staff would have taken cover in those vulnerable spots.

In the meantime, students and staff from Southwestern and neighboring Mintonye Elementary school are back in class, only in different buildings.

Kelly Peckinpaugh's 6th grade class was moved to First Assembly of God Church.
But thanks to tables full of donated supplies and books, her new classroom is looking more and more like her old one.

The superintendent says it's likely that the hundreds of displaced students and staff will stay at their new location for the rest of the school year.
What exactly happens to Southwestern is unknown.
Once it's boarded up, architects will survey the damage and determine whether they need to demolish and rebuild, or just reconstruct portions of the school.
We also just learned the state department of education has granted the district's request for a waiver for the school days missed because of the tornado.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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