OKLAHOMA CITY – One year after Briarwood Elementary students walked away from their school stunned and frightened, hundreds walked with laughter and excitement back to the same spot where their new school is being built.
Awaiting them Tuesday afternoon is a picnic lunch at the new Briarwood construction site.
For the students the fun part is walking with friends and being encouraged by the community.
For Rena Phillips, who pulled her grandkids out of the Briarwood rubble on May 20, 2013, this walk means something else.
“This means renewal,” she said. “It’s life. It’s a new beginning and healing. A lot of healing that needs to take place, not only in my life but in theirs.”
William Fullingim got his daughter out of class minutes before the tornado hit, and then watched the deadly twister grind its way toward Briarwood from a nearby church.
He said, “You just wonder what’s left after seeing the destruction as it’s going past you.”
For him, this walk is about freedom.
“Freedom from the insecurities of what’s happened in the past,” he said. “Something good is happening now.”
Briarwood is expected to open its new school before classes begin this fall.