Freedom students put their training to the test on Feb. 25, practicing the evacuation of their building and their reunification with parents.

"Our students, teachers and staff did a tremendous job during our evacuation drill," says Freedom Principal Mike Morriss. "Within minutes, every one of our 888 students were safely inside Drury University and the St. Robert Municipal Building."

In an orderly and quiet fashion, third, fourth and fifth graders departed Freedom Elementary for the nearby building. Color-coded signs helped ensure students remained with their teachers as they entered the temporary shelter. Once inside, teachers and students moved to specific locations, based on grade level. After all students were accounted for, checkout stations began releasing students to parents who volunteered to test the reunification process.

"When parents arrived, runners delivered children directly from their teacher to the reunification station for their parents," Morriss says.

At the reunification site, parents were required to complete paperwork and show proof of their identification before their children were released to them.

"We hope that we never need to implement our training in a real situation, but we know that we are all prepared should the need ever arise," Morriss says.

Each school within the Waynesville R-VI School District has an evacuation plan so that in the event of an emergency, students have a specific place to go. Parents of Freedom students were notified in advance about the drill.

"Our parents were very supportive of this reunification drill and we appreciate the opportunity to test our plan," Morriss says. "With every drill, you learn more about what we can do better, and nothing is more important than student safety."