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NEWS: Education

Locust Grove Unveils New 'Tornado-Proof' School Building

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Locust Grove's new Early Learning Center is five inter-connected domes: three for classrooms, one for the cafeteria, and one houses the library and offices. Locust Grove's new Early Learning Center is five inter-connected domes: three for classrooms, one for the cafeteria, and one houses the library and offices.
LOCUST GROVE, Oklahoma -

As students in Locust Grove get ready to head back to the classroom this year, they'll be doing so in state-of-the-art style.

The community got its first chance Tuesday to tour the space-age school that administrators call "tornado-proof."

It looks like it belongs more on The Jetsons than in Mayes County.

"I like the design of it, mainly because it's unique," said teacher Brenda Adair. "It gets people's attention, but also because I think it'll get the kids excited, so that when they come they'll be looking forward to having something special."

Locust Grove's new Early Learning Center is five inter-connected domes: three for classrooms, one for the cafeteria, and one houses the library and offices.

Teachers like Adair said the space-age school is an upgrade from the old building.

"It'd been there a long time. I actually went to school in 5th and 6th grade in the same classroom that I was teaching in before. And [it's] just whatever comes with something that's been there a long time. It was worn out and we were really due for something new," Adair said.

The round buildings cut costs without cutting corners.

Locust Grove said the domed-design cost $2.5 million less than a traditional metal building, and the district estimates the super-insulated domes will save $25,000 a year on electric costs alone.

"They're the most highly energy efficient building you can do and they're rated an F-5 tornado, so an F-5 tornado can hit this building, and it's gonna still be here," said Superintendent David Cash.

The campus can also serve as a community shelter in a worst-case scenario.

The school was built with a $4.5 million federal stimulus grant.

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