Allen-Bowden Schools new school library doubles as tornado shelter

The superintendent said they have a great response from those parents about the tornado shelter safety. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – The school year is right around the corner for teachers and students in the Allen-Bowden School District.

This is Stephanie Hitsman’s 17th year teaching.

“Everyone is just so wonderful,” she said. “Easy to work for. Positive. The atmosphere here is just awesome. I am so happy to be a part of the team.”

Enough so, she enrolled her daughter in pre-K at the school.

“This school is like family to me,” she said. “I started my career here and it was just natural for her to come here with me.”

There’s one thing the school was lacking until this year, a tornado shelter.

“It’s definitely something we need,” she said. “After seeing in the news all of the other incidents with tornadoes and how it affected communities and schools, it’s comforting to know this is here.”

Kelly Husted became superintendent several years ago. Even then he saw the need.

“Unfortunately we were just shoving kids in bathrooms and that’s what we were doing, 'just keep getting in there, scoot closer' and as a parent, with kids who go here it was just unacceptable,” he said.

That’s why when a bond issue came up he asked the community to pass it and they did. The bond was worth $800,000.

“It’s not cheap,” Husted said. “Not every school can do that. Not every community is going to support a bond like ours did and we’re kind of the lucky ones that our community said yeah that’s a definite need. We want to keep our kids safe.”

The new Media Center building features a library and computer lab. There’s flashlights, two-way radios, a bullhorn and even an emergency lighting system. The pre-K through third-grade building is right next door with direct access to the Media Center.

“They are just feet from being in here,” Husted said.

Even though Hitsman is only experienced in drills, it’s nice to know this building is on campus.

“Knowing my daughter is just a few feet from the entry to the shelter is amazing,” she said. “It gives you peace of mind and comfort but also my kids here that I teach, they are my kids too.”

With the recent Tulsa Public Schools school consolidations in west Tulsa, Allen-Bowden has taken in about 25 to 30 transfer students.

The superintendent said they have a great response from those parents about the tornado shelter safety.

“A lot of parents don’t know anything about us and they think we are a small school and when they find out we have something like that, they are sold in wanting to bring their kid to our school,” said Husted.

He hopes to attract even more quality teachers and staff in the future. He also hopes to expand the school to a high school one day.

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