October 10, 2018
Purdy’s fifth graders are all working together to get the word out to the community about the school’s new addition, which doubles as a tornado shelter for the school and the surrounding area.
Purdy Schools is in the finishing stages of a FEMA shelter that doubles as a performing arts and early childhood center. Students have all been excited about the new addition for a variety of reasons, and when the fifth graders started asking questions, the opportunity presented itself for them to learn all about the shelter and work to educate the community about what the shelter means, not only to students, but members of the community, as well.
Students in the three fifth grade classes at Purdy were divided up into four groups with different tasks. One group is responsible for developing and handing out flyers to the community during the school carnival next week. Another group is responsible for email and push notifications. The third group is charged with getting the word out through social media, and the final group was to reach out to local news outlets.
The news outlet team, under the director of fifth grade teacher Mrs. Kelsey Fields, agreed to an interview and explained what they have been doing to educate themselves and the community.
When asked how they got started, Lane Chancellor said, “We started with a lot of questions on what we thought the community would ask and started there.”
Another student, Levi Brazzeal, said, “We wanted to do this so everyone knew where to go and what to do if there is a tornado.”
When the kids brainstormed about questions they thought the community would have, they started looking for answers. Jenna Adams said, “We asked our principal Mrs. Dalton, the superintendent [Dr. Steven Chancellor] and Mr. [Glenn] Terry.” Terry is head of the maintenance department.
Dr. Chancellor said, “They were very thoughtful with their questions. I was expecting low-level questions but they were really upper level. Things like ‘How would a person not connected with the school know what the procedures would be?’ ‘How would I know it was okay to go in and how would I know where to go if I wasn’t from here?’
“They asked what would happen if people show up with their pet or how they will know it’s okay to leave. We’re so focused on getting everyone in, but we’ve not really talked a lot in public for what the procedure will be for going home.”
The more questions the students asked, the more excited they got about learning all about the school’s shelter and how it would be used. With more questions came more concerns that people outside of the school might not know what the building was for or that they could use it, as well. So the fifth graders researched in their individual teams and came up with a plan.
Each different team was charged with a different task and a different teacher supervised them. The social media team is led by Mr. Brandon Funkhouser. The email and push notification group is led by Mrs. Stacy Stevenson, and the flyer group is led by Mrs. Abbi Coy.
Lane Chancellor said, “We split into groups so we could go over different things. One group gets some information and then another group gets other information.”
As students continued their research, they were given more free reign on how they researched the topics and what questions they would ask. And now, the students are the experts and they are equipped to educate others to keep them safe in the event of a tornado storm.
The kids shared things they learned in their research. Brooke Barnes explained why the building is on campus, “It’s so students can get there pretty quickly.” Students explained they learned that people have five minutes to get to a shelter once the tornado sirens go off.
As they continued to talk about the shelter, every hand went up to talk about different parts of the shelter.
Brazzeal said, “It has a 1,200 person capacity.”
Ellysa Kettner said, “It’s stocked with food and water in the case of an emergency.”
Isabella Chapman said, “The address is 101 East Highway CC in Purdy, and there are 44 parking spots directly outside of the building, but you will be able to park anywhere close.”
Denilson DeLeon said, “There’s no pets allowed inside.” Another student added that service animals are allowed.
Starr Welch said, “There are several community shelters, Purdy’s shelter may not be the closest to you. Choose the shelter you can get to the safest.”
Lane Chancellor added, “The doors will automatically open when there is a tornado warning.”
The more in depth their research got, the more excited they were about learning and letting others know what they were researching. For these students, they became the experts who get to reach out, which was an exciting educational opportunity.
Kenna Liggett said, “It’s fun because people who didn’t know anything about it can learn a lot about it.”
Brooke Barnes added, “I didn’t know anything about the FEMA shelter before this so this has been a new experience for me.”
Jenna Adams said they really like being able to work on their own, even if it is both fun and scary. She said, “We get to be creative and think outside the box.
“And we get to work as a team instead of just doing what the teacher says.”
Lane Chancellor said, “It feels good inside because if a person doesn’t know about it, and we know about it, it’s kind of cool that we have email, flyers, and the carnival so we can tell them more information instead of them looking at it and going, ‘What is that?’”
Dr. Chancellor said the school likes to encourage collaborative projects and getting students engaged on a more personal level. He said, “The trick we’re trying to figure out in learning is how to make it personal to the kids at a deeper level. The fact that we have something right here that they can engage with and see personal progress in, they can personalize it. It’s hard to replicate that in every classroom.
“One of the things we feel pretty strongly about is that communication and collaboration are two essential skills for whatever you do when you leave school. Anytime we can create opportunities for a criss-cross of interaction between kids that wouldn’t normally interact. The skill we’re building is that collaboration.”
As their project moves forward, they all have the bigger picture in mind. Elyssa Kettner said, “We want people to be safe and not worry about what to do if there is a tornado.”
Kenna Liggett added, “I think it’s fun because people who don’t know anything about it or that it’s there, we can pass out flyers to them to make them know.”
The school carnival where fifth graders will be reaching out to community members will be on Friday, October 19, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the school.
The Purdy fifth grade team responsible for reaching out to the news media are pictured above with their teacher. From left to right, in the back row: Levi Brazzeal, Lane Chancellor, Denilson DeLeon, Mrs. Kelsey Fields, Brooke Barnes, Isabella Chapman and Starr Welch. Front row: Kenna Liggett, Jenna Adams and Ellysa Kettner.
Purdy’s fifth graders responsible for flyer notification are led by fifth grade teacher Mrs. Abbi Coy. Pictured, from left to right, in the front row: Jenifer Rivera, Gabe Tate, Katelyn Ozbun, Courtney Patterson, Shayla Wittington, Keilah Kirkpatrick, Chance Parsons, Rose Wilson and Braiden Clow. Second row: Eric Garcia, Easten Goetz, Hannah Rickman, Weston Roden, Autumn Bingham, Gabby Rivera, Haley Juarez and Corbin O’Donald. Third row: Giovanni Salas, Randy Rueda, Gracie Logan, Aldo Perez, Frankie Salas. In the back: Mrs. Abbi Coy.
Purdy’s fifth graders responsible for social media notification are led by fifth grade teacher Mr. Brandon Funkhouser. Pictured from left to right, in the back row: Mr. Brandon Funkhouser, Marissa Freeman, Tristan Merrit, Simon Walker, Alex Gennarelli, Lisa Vang, Andrea Haros. Front row: Elijah Bowers, Sua Na Lee, Pablo Alvarez, Marely Salas, Lexi Felipe and Lucy Lee.