FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – Xenia high school graduates had a send-off ceremony they won’t soon forget.
Xenia High School seniors were walking across the stage at Wright State’s Nutter Center, when the tornado warnings hit forcing them to take shelter. High school principal Dr. Henry Jackoby said he had just shaken the last graduating seniors hand before advisory.
Wright State University Police Chief David Finnie said activating a campus wide emergency alert was a part of their protocol and they wanted to make sure everyone safe.
“We’ve had some situation in the past but never to this scale, so haven’t had a tornado hovering over the Nutter center, so close. I understand it did eventually touch down just a few miles away, but you know this is a realistic scenario for us. We know they can happen in the Miami Valley,” Finnie said.
Nearly 4,000 people were in attendance, including 300+ seniors, when cell phones began ringing with weather alerts and sirens signaling throughout the city of Fairborn.
According to Jackoby, everyone appeared calm inside the Nutter center and was prepared because the city of Xenia has a long history of tornadoes touching down including the big one in 1974, in 2000 and in 2011.
“We’ve learned that our being prepared for this kind of stuff has actually paid off, because we drill our tornado drills religious and we do safety drills here at the high school religiously. We are very careful about that and so that pays off when the actual situation happens,” Jackoby said.
Although the ceremony ended abruptly, Jackoby said, all the seniors receive their diplomas and are certified high school graduates.