Magoffin County Schools leaders: Take nothing for granted
Kentucky School Advocate
By Matt McCarty
Magoffin County High School principal Tony Skaggs has a message for schools throughout the state about their safety drills.
“Don’t take them for granted. They are important,” Skaggs said. “And if you think something can’t happen in your area, you’re probably wrong.”
The Magoffin County school district experienced this firsthand in March 2012 when a tornado hit the community, along with other eastern Kentucky counties. Skaggs now presents a session at the Kentucky Center for School Safety’s annual conference each summer titled “Rising from the Rubble: The story of the 2012 tornado.”
“It’s been pretty good, pretty powerful. We go over the drills. It’s all basically about tornado drills. We go over the requirements and the drills and the proper procedures,” Skaggs said.
When it comes to balancing letting students know the importance of safety drills without scaring them, Skaggs said “that’s hard to do now after what happened here. But really we’ve not had a problem other than that first year or so after the tornado hit here as far as the weather drills.”
Magoffin County School superintendent Stanley Holbrook said “as time goes by the pressure and stress on the children are a lot less.”
Holbrook said it wasn’t the drills that would scare the students – it was TV reports about possible bad weather that would make them frantic.
“The drills never did scare them because they realize we’re doing that for their benefit,” Holbrook said. “They understood they were practice. They took it a lot more serious after the tornado.”
Salyersville Elementary principal Willie Cole said there are still some students who are affected by weather.
“Although it’s a much, much smaller number, but we still have students who were dramatically impacted by that weather that we know we have to give attention to when there may be some kind of threat of imminent weather,” he said.
Magoffin County’s middle school was destroyed during the tornado and students have been shifted for now to the high school. A new high school is scheduled to be completed this summer, and the current high school will become the middle school.
“One of the biggest challenges we have now here at this high school is I’ve got the middle school, and they’ve been here since 2012,” Skaggs said. “We’re trying to get 1,000 kids in places where there’s no windows and doors whereas before we were trying to get 600. It was a lot easier.”