JA Volunteer Shares His Story of Surviving a Tornado

On May 20, 2013, the city of Moore, Okla., was changed forever when an EF5 tornado ripped through the town, killing 24 people and injuring 377 others. Briarwood Elementary School was directly in the tornado?s path and was destroyed by the tornado. Only moments before the elementary school was struck, a Junior Achievement volunteer was inspiring students as he presented the final JA lesson to a second-grade class. Shannan Beeler, president of Junior Achievement of Oklahoma, visited with the volunteer shortly after the tornado struck and shared his experience from that day. Last spring, JA volunteer Adam Merritt taught two classes at Briarwood Elementary. This was his first time volunteering with JA. Adam said that his JA volunteer experience will become part of his life story. On May 20, the day of the tornado that changed so many lives, Adam showed up for his final day as a volunteer with his classroom, armed with certificates to give each of the students. As he was preparing for his final lesson over his lunch hour, he listened to the weather but did not believe it would be as bad as predicted.When Adam showed up at the school, he noticed that it was not "business as usual," as there were many parents there checking out students, which continued as he began his lesson. It wasn?t long before the school called for students to take cover. Shannan said that as she listened to Adam?s recount of the May 20 events and thanked him for being such a faithful volunteer to JA, he shared that he was deeply grateful for the experience."Because of JA, I was there and I?d like to think I made a positive impact on the students? lives. Because of the lessons being taught, the students were thinking of something positive right before the tornado hit. I?m proud to be a part of JA," Adam said."While we often don?t know at exactly what point we?ve touched a life, or the message that caused a breakthrough in a child?s life, I can say with conviction that these children won?t forget that Adam was in their classroom that day and delivered a positive message filled with hope for their futures. I know that as I listened to him, I was filled with a renewed passion for the importance of our mission and the desire to continue to reach more of the students in Oklahoma," Shannan concluded.

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