Thunder Treats Plaza Towers to Special Morning

It’s only been a few days, but Plaza Towers Elementary students have adjusted to their new surroundings at Central Junior High, just two miles to the east of where their school once stood.

On what might have been a sleepy Wednesday morning, students began to file out of the cafeteria after finishing their breakfast, only to be greeted by a thrilling Thunder surprise. After the devastating May 20th tornado destroyed their school and tragically took seven of their classmates’ lives, Plaza Towers students and teachers deserve a joyous return to school, which is why the Thunder brought Rumble and Thunder Girls along to greet the exuberant students as they entered their classrooms. Students walked into their cafeteria as they normally would with no sign of a special occasion, but when they exited on the other side to head to class, the Thunder was waiting to surprise them.

“I had no idea at first until everybody was saying ‘Rumble is outside!’” fifth grader Liliana Johnson said. “It’s fun because everybody is laughing and having fun spending time with their friends and everything.”

“I saw Rumble and everybody was getting pictures and signatures,” third grader Destiny Romriel said.” I was very excited and so were the cheerleaders.”

The deep loss that occurred on May 20th has been accompanied by grief and apprehension, which is why having a positive return to school is so important for the students at Plaza Towers. Regaining a sense of normalcy with their teachers, administrators and classmates will be critical, but parents have also been happy across the Moore area about the extra effort Oklahomans from all walks of life have been making to help the kids have an enjoyable school experience once again.

“It’s been good to have them back with all the same kids and the same teachers,” Destiny Romriel’s father Dan said. “They’re going out of their way to make it a good year for them… They’re all going to be upset after the storm on May 20th, so just coming back and having Rumble here helps lighten things up and makes a difference.”

As the school year moves along, the new surroundings will become familiar and everyone will fall into their normal habits. After this first week, there will be opportunities for Plaza Towers Principal Amy Simpson and her staff to educate their students as they would in any other year and tend to their needs both in and out of the classroom. There is still recovery to be done for these students, teachers and their families, and it will be an ongoing process for the school this entire year.

“I just want to settle into our schedule and what is in store for us academically,” Simpson said. “As far as emotional and spiritual growth, I hope that we find that here. We have a lot of healing to do, so I’m searching for the right path for that healing.”

In true Oklahoman spirit, people across the state have been there for one another in this time of adversity and subsequent recuperation. The Thunder, through its $1 Million donation to recovery efforts immediately after the storm and its continued support of those affected by the tragedies will maintain a strong presence in the community.

Events like Wednesday morning’s visit from Rumble and the Thunder Girls are small gestures that can go a long way in helping everyone who suffered feel just a bit better as they acclimate to their circumstances together. Janice Brim, a sixth grade teacher who once had a memorabilia-filled “Thunder Corner” in her Plaza Towers classroom, put the overall goal for the students this year succinctly.

“I want them to be able to find their potential, to keep pushing forward and not let things from the past pull them down,” Brim said. “I want them to look forward to the future and take off and do the best they can.”

Along with Oklahomans and other organizations, the Thunder hopes to assist everyone in Plaza Towers as they find inner strength, maintain a positive outlook each day and honor those who were lost.