DeKalb West School will be hosting a brief dedication ceremony and open house for the new addition to the building on Thursday, September 4th.
The public is invited to attend.
The dedication begins at 6:00 p.m. and tours of the school will follow at 6:30 p.m. For those who can't attend Thursday, the school will be open for tours again on Sunday, September 7 from 2-4 p.m.
The addition is located at the front of the school with a new façade and it includes new classrooms, restrooms, and hallway, most of them tornado safe shelters. The facility also features a new secure entrance to the school, an office, clinic, conference room, and a teacher work area. A new larger kitchen has been constructed as an extension to the existing building and the cafeteria is enlarged.
The school made use of their new storm shelter for the first time only two weeks when severe thunderstorms raked across the county downing trees and power lines.
Students at all schools in the county were kept about an hour longer than usual that day because of the storms as a safety precaution.
At DeKalb West School, students, staff, and parents in the pickup line were directed to the new storm shelter classrooms and hallway. "It happened around 1:30 p.m. when we started moving to the safe rooms. We had lots of space. There are seven classrooms in that area, a bathroom and a very large hallway. Each room was assigned to a grade level and they were very quickly moved to that area and they stayed there. We opened it up to the parents who were in the car line. We had probably about fifteen parents come in the building and stay with us in the hallways. As an administrator it was very comforting having them in there as we were watching over the building. It put you at ease and the parents were very pleased," said Assistant DWS Principal Sabrina Farler, who will be the new DWS principal later this month
"Everybody fit in that area without any problem and we could have had even more people come in," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. "
"In the future we're going to have plans made out so that the community can come in there (during a severe storm threat). People might want to come in there for a safe place. Hopefully we can set it up where there will be a remote way that it can be unlocked and people can come into a certain part of the building. That is one of the reasons it was designed. It is not only for the school but for the community," said Willoughby.
Although no one was hurt and the school received no storm damage from the winds, a lightning strike shut down a one thousand amp breaker at DeKalb West that day which caused schools to be dismissed early on the day after the storm and then closed the following day until the breaker could be replaced.