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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tornado Just Misses South Pointe High School

Photo of Wednesday's Tornado by Martha Cook
From The South Pointe S.P.I.N magazine:

South Pointe dodges ‘bullet’ with apparent tornado

Nick Arsenault, Nora Duncan, Rileigh Glasgow, Hannah Vidallon, and Izzi Woodard
In the early morning after the storm district plant facilities workers go around South Pointe’s campus retrieving fallen trees and debris. The trees were piled into the back of the truck and taken away.
Tornados hit Rock Hill like a surprise attack yesterday. They aren’t very common here, especially near South Pointe High School. Usually, reports of twisters come from LancasterorChester.
Copy editor Blake Roberts, who job shadowed coroner Sabrina Gast Wednesday, used her business card to call her from Newspaper Production class for confirmation of the names and ages of tornado victims killed yesterday: Oran Courtney, 60, Charles Kenneth Hasner, 60, and Barbara Hasner, 62.
Here at South Pointe, the varsity football team was trying to get in repetitions at every position to prepare for the Friday’s playoff game against Fairfield Central. The skies darkened around 6 p.m.; the area had been under a tornado watch for a while.  Suddenly, the wind picked up and reports came in that funnel clouds were forming near the school. Coach Mindy Best, along with other coaches, rushed the players off the field.
After all the student athletes were safe, Coach Robert Beckler said he made sure parents waiting for their children outside were escorted into the building safely.
“Our main concern was getting our athletes to safety,” Beckler said. He wasn’t sure how serious everything was until he received pictures from an athlete’s father of two funnel clouds, which the dad had taken with his cell phone onCherry Road.  
“All the guidelines that were in place were sufficient and all coaches and athletes adhered to safety procedures,” head wrestling Coach Eddie Cook said Thursday.
District 3 Tech Support’s Debbie Alcorn, a woman devoted to her job, worked through the afternoon after everyone left, even during the tornados. “I had no idea what was going on,” Alcorn said.  “The hail was beating against the window. The wind was whipping in the parking lot. But I knew the paper was on deadline.”
Funnel clouds passed over South Pointe High School grounds Wednesday afternoon, leaving a minimum amount of damage. Multiple trees were ripped from the ground, and the batting cage on the practice baseball field was damaged.
She and other tech support personnel had been putting in long hours reimaging every computer at South Pointe, the first high school in the district-wide technology update. Understanding the school newspaper deadlines, Alcorn said she hated to leave S.P.i.N. computer lab she was working on and wanted to make sure it was finished, no matter what.
Jimmy Chrismon, the theatre arts teacher, had to bring in the cast members of “Hello Dolly” to C-Hall during their final dress rehearsal. He was allowed to stay in the auditorium, but got all the members to safety.
Faculty and staff opened an email from Principal Al Leonard sent at 7:50 a.m. Thursday morning which commended the secretaries, parents, coaches, trainers and teachers who assisted in getting students to the appropriate areas and keeping them calm during “a scary and potentially dangerous situation,” Leonard said in the email.
“It went very smoothly,” Leonard stated Thursday. “We definitely dodged a bullet.”
Leonard did not yet know the cost of damages Thursday.
As for head football Coach Strait Herron, he was glad to see the sun out for Thursday’s practice, having missed valuable time during the severe weather.
“I was upset that we didn’t get the reps in yesterday, and today was supposed to be review, but we have to get that stuff done today,” Herron said during Football class Thursday.

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