Saunders

Grades worry students

Staff WriterApril 18, 2011 

Ah, the sweet resilience of youth.

Less than 24 hours after he thought the world was coming to an end, Shaw University student Dawan Thompson was worrying about something far more mundane - his grades.

With the world apparently spared for the time being, Thompson, Jasper Johnson and other Shaw students are now concerned about their academic future.

Thompson, a freshman at Shaw, said he was walking down the steps of Fleming-Kee dorm Saturday afternoon when a gust of wind blew open a window and knocked down a fellow student walking behind him. "You know how it is. One person fell and knocked me down" and that led to several others tumbling, as well.

"I thought it was the end of the world," he said.

It wasn't. What it was was a vicious tornado that slammed the campus and sent glass, students and at least one roof flying.

Johnson, a freshman business management major who was forced to spend Saturday night at a hotel on his own dime, said, "There's a rumor going around saying whatever your midterm grade was, that's what you're stuck with. I have a pretty good grade."

Thompson, from Landover, Md., does, too - a C average, he said - "but I was looking to bring it up with final exams and projects for different classes."

Aw, c'mon. Cut the kid some slack. College kids since the days of raccoon coats and saddle shoes have done the same thing, cramming a semester's worth of studying into two weeks, fueled by No-Doz and Mountain Dew.

Few of us had to contend with a tornado hitting campus and causing us to be stuck with our less-than-exemplary midterm grades, though.

Fear and shock were still present on the faces of parents who descended upon Shaw's campus Sunday to take their babies home, but among the students one could actually hear occasional laughter echoing across the glass-strewn quad as they lugged mini-fridges, foot lockers and plastic bags filled with their stuff to waiting automobiles.

Many hugged and exchanged premature goodbyes with fellow students, not sure when they'd be returning.

It's going to take a lot of moolah to restore Shaw, which was already struggling financially. Too bad President Irma McClaurin couldn't charge admission to the hundreds of rubberneckers driving slowly past campus Sunday to see up close the damage reported in the newspaper and on television. Not all were there just to satisfy their morbid curiosity, though.

Joyce Davis, resident manager for the Dimple M. Newsome women's dorm, said many volunteers - in addition to students and faculty - were pitching in to feed students and help them move out.

"Everybody's pitching in - alumni, churches, students. Our main focus is to get (students) out of the building, get them home safe," Davis said. "Thank God, not one student was hurt" during the tornado, she continued, although she interrupted our conversation to yell for a campus employee to "come over here and clean up this blood."

She explained that a student had just injured himself slightly while carrying a refrigerator from the dorm.

President McClaurin said the school has set up a disaster relief fund at Mechanics & Farmers Bank at 13 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, 27601. So even if you're like me and your refrigerator-totin' days are long gone, you can still help the school and its students get back on their feet - and lift those midterm grades.

barry.saunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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