Highland East Principal 'Drop-On-Your-Knees Thankful' After Moore Tornado

Wednesday, May 29th 2013, 3:47 pm
By: News 9

The principal of Highland East Junior High told students and staff just before the May 20 tornado hit the school, "I need you to take cover immediately. We are out of time."

Principal Kathy Knowles spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon about what happened at the school the day the deadly tornado hit Moore. Most of the attention has been focused on the two Moore elementary schools, Briarwood and Plaza Towers, that were destroyed by the EF-5 tornado. Seven students died at Plaza Towers.

The tornado also hit Highland East. Knowles decided at 2:30 p.m. to keep all students at the school instead of releasing them for the day, because she didn't want them to be caught out in the dangerous storm.

Just 30 minutes later, the tornado hit the school.

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

The twister destroyed the gym, briefly trapping several students under debris. Knowles said her entire staff was calm and strong during the tornado, making sure students were safe and rushing to rescue those who were trapped.

Knowles said although the students in the gym were emotionally traumatized, she was "drop-on-your-knees thankful" they were all safe.

To hear Knowles' story about the day the tornado hit, watch the video above.