Oakdale School Assignment Helps Students Save Valuables From Fire

Friday, September 2nd 2011, 6:58 pm
By: News 9

Ed Murray, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Several schools have been threatened by this week's wildfires. One was Oakdale School, located at N.E. Hefner and Sooner Roads in Oklahoma City. That fire came even closer to the homes of many of Oakdale's students.

Most Oakdale students have grown up together so they know each other very well. So Jill Willhoite, Oakdale English Teacher, had to come up with something a little different for an icebreaker at the start of school, write an essay about their most prized possessions.

It became a "prophetic" assignment.

Willhoite wanted her students to think, to focus on the things dearest to them.

"It couldn't be a family member or a pet. It had to be something that you could grab, and I used the expression, out of your house if it's burning down. So they were thinking," Willhoite says.

A week later, most of her students were on emergency mandatory evacuations.

"Children don't always think that way. And so the fact that we got to talk about it before and talk about how insurance covers things and how most of what we have is replaceable, then I felt like, hopefully I helped them in that crisis," Willhoite says.

As for future essays, Willhoite says she is not going to talk about tornados, or floods, or anything else ever again, because it might come true.

Come true, indeed, especially at Oakdale. In the last 10 to15 years, the school has been damaged by two tornadoes, three floods, and at least one fire.

Willhoite tells us she didn't even make the connection until one student pointed to the wall of essays and said, "Those assignments really worked."

Music to the ears of any teacher.