Tushka students start class in new building, three years after tornado destroys school

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TUSHKA, OK -- Some area schools are now back in session and for one Oklahoma community, students and faculty are happier than ever to be in a new school.

Over three years ago, an EF-3 tornado swept through Tushka, killing two people and injuring dozens more.

Many homes were destroyed, along with Tushka's school building.

The community has been working hard over the years to rebuild and Monday, News 12 got a tour of the new school where students are already learning.

It's a new school year and students and faculty at Tushka Public schools are anxious to get the year started.

"I wouldn't wanna be anywhere else," said senior, Mason Workman.

Back in April of 2011, an EF-3 tornado swept through Tushka, destroying many buildings including the elementary and high school.

School officials say it was never a question whether classes would resume or not.

"Everyone just rolled up their sleeves and worked a little harder to compensate for it and it was just a team effort by the faculty, staff, the parents,and the students themselves," said high school principal, Matt Simpson.

For the past two years, classes were held in portable buildings while crews worked to rebuild their school.

Elementary school principal, Paul Weaver, says students worked as hard as ever to make their grades.

"One of our motto's was tornado tough," Weaver said. "Our student's test scores were higher than they've ever been and we did all that in temporary buildings. We just made due with what we had and now this new building is just the payoff."

The new $8,000,000 school that opened last week houses students from kindergarten through grade 12.

After the tornado, school officials felt it was vital to include safety upgrades in the new building.

"It's basically three wings with it being the elementary, the middle school, and the high school," Simpson said. "Each one of those wings has it's own safe room and so no student is more than 60 seconds away from a safe room."

Workman says he's excited and grateful to start his senior year in the new building and he's proud of how far he and his classmates have come since the devastating storm.

"Even through all this and the tragic tornado, we showed how strong Tushka was and how we could all pull together and make it through," Workman said.

Officials say they wanted to remember their old building by saving some of the red bricks and putting them into the new building.

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