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Sirens tested for first time since deadly twister

BY DON BABWIN Associated Press

CHICAGO - Children in the central Illinois community of Washington reacted calmly to a test of the tornado sirens that were sounded Tuesday for the first time since November when a deadly twister leveled whole blocks of houses and killed one person, the school superintendent said.

"It went very well, there were no problems whatsoever, said John Tignor, superintendent of Washington Grade School District 52, a two-school district of 970 children.

"No students seemed upset at all by it (and) and they continued their normal class activities throughout the drill."

He said he received no reports that any students needed to speak to the counselors who were standing by.

The children in Washington had not heard the sirens since the Nov. 17, 2013, tornado.

District officials were concerned enough about their possible reaction to the statewide test that over the past couple of weeks the district has been notifying parents. Meanwhile, teachers and principals have been doing the same with the students.

The test did not include a drill of the students, as is usual when the sirens are tested.

During a drill the students are escorted to safe locations where they must get down on the floor and put their arms over their heads.

Tignor said the district decided a drill might be too traumatic for the children less than five months after the tornado, one of two dozen that leveled scores of buildings and killed seven people in the state.

"We thought it might create too much anxiety," he said.

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