Chapman school district builds safe rooms

The safe room at Enterprise Elementary can be used as a classroom until it is needed as a storm shelter.
The safe room at Enterprise Elementary can be used as a classroom until it is needed as a storm shelter.

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ENTERPRISE, Kansas – A tornado that hit the town of Chapman in June 2008 has prompted many schools in the area to build shelters.

One of those schools is Enterprise Elementary School which is in the Chapman school district, USD 473.

Enterprise principal Luann Sparks says the school began constructing a safe room in September of last year.

The school took advantage of funds from FEMA to build a state of the art room that can double as a classroom and storm shelter when needed.

Sparks says this elevates the stress from the old method they once used.

“We had our students actually do more of the duck and cover method out in the hallways.”

The safe room comes equipped with two bathrooms, emergency lighting and a ventilation system that would allow students and staff members to stay in the room for a long time.

Another luxury is the large amount of people the room can house.

“It can hold up to about 200, and currently we have 100 students enrolled and about 25 staff members so there is plenty of room,” said Lacee Sell, USD 473 Superintendent.

While the safe room at Enterprise allows a quick getaway for the K through 5 students, the younger students on the school grounds will also benefit.

In the past, the Head Start students had to walk around the building during a storm. Now they only have about a 30 yard walk from their building to the safe room to seek shelter.

Sparks says getting a safe room was of the utmost importance to make sure safety remains the number one priority for the children and staff.

“I don’t ever want to see any school go through a tornado and then think afterwards if only we would have had a safe room.”

Sparks says now that the safe room is complete, they will begin conducting tornado drills in preparation for tornado season.

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