That’s What We Do In Oklahoma

I grew up in Tennessee, but I’ve lived in Oklahoma for more than twenty years now.

Teacher hugs child after tornado in Moore, Oklahoma
I will never grow used to tornadoes. Spring time here means clearing out your storm shelter or your best hidey-holes. That’s what we do in Oklahoma.

When the afternoon clouds and ominous warmth began to grow around our school building Monday afternoon, I checked the radar and realized what was heading our way within the next hour.

Thankfully, school was already out, and the only students left in our building were a handful practicing ball in the gym. We soon had parents there picking them up, and I only had one student left who stayed with me and a couple of teachers till the warnings had cleared.

Just another day in tornado alley, I thought, but soon realized this was not the case for our friends out west. Miles to our west, the homes and schools in Moore, Oklahoma were devastated by a tornado. Little did I know that teachers there were literally laying down their lives to protect, shield, and attempt to save students. It will take days for authorities to sort out the final number of fatalities, but it took only moments to start hearing stories of heroism during this loss.

Oddly enough, one hour after the tornado warnings lifted in our area, I was attending my daughters’ band concert. Even in the aftermath of taking cover, we were still having a concert. In another part of Tulsa, a high school was holding its graduation ceremony.

Although I love hearing my children play, it was a bit surreal to sit through their charming performance after hearing about Moore. As I watched these children playing their instruments–cheeks puffed out, eyes trained on their director, parents snapping shots with their iPhones–I thought about how most of them were unaware of the devastation, the loss of life, the children who are still missing a few counties west of us. The band simply played God of Our Fathers, Panis Agenelicus, and the Armed Forces Salute.

At end of the concert, a band parent publicly thanked the director and students, then reminded the audience to be praying for our friends in Moore. She said, “Please pray. Because that’s what we do in Oklahoma.”

Like all of you, we are grieving the overwhelming loss of so many in one brief moment. I am glad to be reminded that even in the midst of our worst times, heroes still exist. In these times, we can pray for our neighbors, we can lend a hand, and we can pull together.

And as we search for ways to help during a time of tragedy, we will also keep celebrating little respites like band concerts and graduations–the brief and beautiful moments that we still have with our students and families.

Our hearts go out to everyone who suffered so much loss in Moore, Oklahoma this week. With permission from the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, I am sharing their invitation for help. Please share this with others and help in whatever way you can:

All of us at the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Words cannot adequately express our feelings, but please know that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.

On behalf of the members and staff of CCOSA we want to extend our sincerest sympathy, trusting that remembrance by so many friends will bring comfort. If you would like to help by sending a donation for those in schools that were impacted by this disaster, you can send funds to the CCOSA School Tornado Relief Fund at 2901 North Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105 or contact our office at 405-524-1191.

For those who wish to donate items, donations are being accepted at the OSSBA at 2801 Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. You can contact the OSSBA office at 405-528-3571.

Needed items include:
· Diapers
· Hand Sanitizer
· Wet Wipes
· Soap
· Sun Screen
· Deodorant
· Work Gloves
· Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
· Baby Formula
· Bottled Water and/or Gatorade
· Individually Wrapped Snack Items

Thank you for your concern and prayers for those impacted by the tornados.


The CCOSA Staff

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker