WICHITA. Kan. -

Last month a bolt of lightning blew apart a giant Cottonwood tree outside of a Wichita elementary school. Pieces of the tree ended up dozens of feet away, some inside the school.  Friday, students and teachers were turning that scary memory into a learning experience and a growing one.

They planted a Shumard Oak sapling to replace the three foot wide Cottonwood and learned more about lightning safety.

See pictures of the planting ceremony here

"On your tiptoes, bend over and cover your head," demonstrated a speaker from the National Weather Service offices, having the kids get up and copy him.

Lightning is a hot topic among the students at Woodman Elementary.

"I think the children were shocked to learn how powerful lightning is," said principal Jana Epperly.

Even though no one was hurt, having that lightning strike rip apart the tree in their playground and send shards of wood through several classroom windows, made the students take storms a lot more seriously.

"I've had many students tell me lately, 'Mrs. Epperly, we were out playing and we saw it was cloudy, so we thought we better go in." And we'd rather they err on the side of safety than take that chance," said Epperly.

The assembly taught them the basics of lightning safety.  The new tree they then helped plant, taught other lessons.

Such as just how long it takes a two inch thick sapling to turn into a three foot thick tree.  The answer is about 50 years.

The new tree was donated by Johnson's Garden Center.