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Heroic Teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary; CNN Hero Lends Helping Hand in Moore; A Very Personal Decision; Collapsed Bridge "Functionally Obsolete"; Having Kids is Investment Career "Killer"; Summer Movie Preview

Aired May 24, 2013 - 08:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

For student and teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, this year will be a year they will never forget. Their school demolished by Monday's deadly tornadoes; seven of the school's students were among the 24 killed in that storm. On Thursday, teachers and students gathered at a nearby school, East Lake Elementary to reunite before the summer break.

Rhonda Crosswhite and Janice Brim were inside the school when the tornado hit. Both of these women put their lives at risk to protect their students and they are among the teachers we can all say are heroes this week for gathering up their students and trying to keep them safe and calm as this horror unfolded around them.

Thank you so much for joining us. And Rhonda, let me ask you first, how important it was for you to be back with the kids in a safe, intact school to say good-bye for the summer?

RHONDA CROSSWHITE, 6TH GRADE TEACHER, PLAZA TOWERS ELEMENTARY: Yesterday was so meaningful. It gave us some closure just to touch the kids and feel them and know that they were OK. And it gave them closure too, to see us and know that we were OK.

ROMANS: You know, Rhonda, the last time you touched the kids, you were laying on top of them, with a little boy saying, "I love you, I love you, don't let me die." I mean, those kinds of moments as a teacher, most will never experience. How are you holding up?

CROSSWHITE: I'm holding up actually pretty well. And I hope no teacher has to go through what we had to do. I can't imagine wishing that on anybody, but it makes us who we are.

ROMANS: Janice, you said you simply followed the school's procedures on that morning. What went through your head as the tornado hit your school?

JANICE BRIM, 6TH GRADE TEACHER, PLAZA TOWERS ELEMENTARY: The thing that went through my head is this -- we've always talked about this isn't the real thing, that this is what we would do if it were the real thing when we were practicing. What went through my head this is the real thing. And it -- it was -- it was frightening, and I -- I felt what the children felt but I didn't want to express it in any way. I just wanted to be calm for them.

ROMANS: Tell me what you -- Janice, what you said to the kids yesterday at school? I mean, was it just hugs? Was it -- was it just being together again, saying good-bye for the summer? What was it exactly?

BRIM: It was great to see them in a whole different light. They were happy, they were -- they're excited about the gifts that the community had for them. And I wanted to ask every one of them, now remind me, which bathroom were you in? Were you in the girls or boys? How is your house? Was it hit?

Some of the responses were my house is fine, we still have two bedrooms and a bathroom. And I thought, bless your hearts.

And I wanted to know then what their plans were. We wanted to know if we were going to see them again next year? They were asking questions we couldn't answer like will you be back? Will the school be finished? And where will we go to school? And we had to just shrug our shoulders and say we will be together somewhere. We'll still be Plaza Towers whether we have a building or not.

ROMANS: Gosh, you know, Rhonda, I mean, this is going to be a long summer for everyone trying to get the rebuilding started, but also trying to heal. What -- I guess what is your takeaway with kids and how you'll be handling kids differently or listening to kids differently because of what they have been through?

CROSSWHITE: We've all been changed because of what happened on Monday, and I think now when our kids, we say we're going to tornado drill or to fire drill or to lockdown, it's going to be a lot more real to them. More -- some of them will be very scared when we do it, so we'll have to be more reassuring that it is a drill, that we have to practice them and remind them why.

ROMANS: Rhonda and Janice, thank you both. Thank you both for doing your job in such an exemplary way. I mean, parents and teachers and everyone in the country, just -- when you see the video and hear the stories of how you laid down on top of these kids and told them, "It's going to be OK and I love you, too," it breaks our heart and makes our hearts burst at the same time.

Thank you to both of you. Best of luck this summer.

CROSSWHITE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: A 2008 CNN hero, Tad Agoglia, and his nonprofit First Response Team of America are back in action this week. They're lending a big helping hand in Moore, Oklahoma, after the tornado.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen anything like this.

TAD AGOGLIA, FIRST RESPONSE TEAM OF AMERICA (voice-over): Watching the news, and literal seeing the tornado touch down right before our very eyes.


AGOGLIA: We knew it was powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED: There it is. It's a mile right down the H.E. Bailey.

AGOGLIA: My First Response team was prepositioned; we able to get here within two hours after the strike. We saw massive destruction right off the bat.

We were able to get police escorts and we were brought right to the school. Search and rescue had just begun.

We had some equipment on site that really was need. Cranes to lift up heavy debris. CAT machines with grapple buckets to move the debris out of way. We were digging through an area of the school that we thought there could be some young children trapped. Seeing the desks, pieces of paper that children had written on, and it just stopped me in my tracks. And it reminded me of why I do what I do every day.

My team has been to over 50 large-scale disasters. Places like the earthquake in Haiti, Superstorm Sandy. This could be almost as bad as Joplin. And I'm not a scientist, but something is changing. The disasters are becoming more epic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news.

AGOGLIA: But thanks to the news, meteorologists, thanks to technology --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to be in your tornado shelter immediately.

AGOGLIA: People are becoming more aware of how to prepare and get out of harm's way when these large-scale disasters strike.

We come here to help, to be part of the community, but it's always vitally important for me and my team to remember -- every house had a family living in it and they need a helping hand.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just some of the heroes who are so present in Moore, Oklahoma.

So Memorial Day weekend, it is here. But what will the weather be like? Indra Petersons has the holiday forecast.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it depends on where are you at, right? Northeast where we're at, not so great. We're talking like 15, 20 degrees below normal and even some chances for rain, which we already had yesterday. And even snow flurries at the high elevations. What is going on out there?

Well, let's take a look. Look at the jet stream diving down again, temperatures again cooling off with it as it goes. I want to show you one of these radar loops -- notice where the pink is. That is snow, people. No, we're not going to be playing in the snow, but keep in mind, that's some cold air. So we're talking about frost advisories in the overnight areas in the New England areas, those peak elevations of New England and New York.

ROMANS: So wear a fleece when you're grilling out.

PETERSONS: Only if you're way, way, way up high. Everyone else, yes, of course, just a little bit else chilly.

There's the rain to kind of give you an idea today. As you go forward in time, though, watch it kind of lift. It's going to go up, so as you go farther to the north, more chances of rain. If you go farther south, more sunshine every day you go. So kind of a little mixed bag there.

Beautiful weather, of course, down towards the Carolinas; it's gorgeous there. Up toward the Hamptons, not so much. We're talking about some rain. Chicago, not bad. And out towards the Midwest, maybe seeing showers on Memorial Day.

ROMANS: I hope that the Jersey Shore is packed. Because Jersey people are crazy about their Jersey shore. They're going to go down and open the Jersey Shore. So this is opening weekend, so we hope all those shore businesses get a lot of business.


ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: All right, we'll be right back.


ROMANS: Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy because she carried a rare gene mutation that can lead to breast cancer. There are some women without the gene who make that same decision.

Our own Zoraida Sambolin has learned a lot about this in the last few months and I'll say you have been strong, poised, classy, honest, and amazing during this whole process.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I really appreciate that. I feel really empowered and my goal right now is to empower other women as they're going through these crazy decisions that they have to make.

I did choose a double mastectomy, as everybody knows. And so I got some e-mails as to why. People wanted to know why did you choose to do that? So I went back to Chicago, I sat with my doctors and I walked through why we made that decision. And I also talked to a young girl, the youngest ever to have a double mastectomy, because she carries that same BRCA gene as Angelina Jolie. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It often started with a lump or a shadowy figure on a black and white screen. Then, suddenly, your life unwinds.

DR. PETER JOKICH, RADIOLOGIST: This we know is cancer.

SAMBOLIN: That's how it happened to me.

JOKICH: Any of these other spots in either breast can be the same thing. They can be benign. They can be malignant. We really don't know.

SAMBOLIN: All the doctors know for sure is that this one dot in my left breast has encapsulated cancerous sales. It's called ductal carcinoma in Situ, the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer. All those white bloods and blue blips captured in dense breast tissue, could very well signal more cancel, or be nothing at all.

JOKICH: You have a four to five times greater risk to develop breast cancer than the average woman.

SAMBOLIN: It's that uncertainty that's led me to choose a procedure increasingly done by women fearful of getting invasive breast cancer. I will soon undergo a double mastectomy, choosing to remove not only the cancerous tissue in my left breast, but the tissue my doctors say look suspicious in my right breast.

JOKICH: You're whole thing is you don't want to die of breast cancer.

SAMBOLIN (on camera): No.

JOKICH: And so, that's like that's the bottom line of all this.

LINDSAY AVNER, BRIGHT PINK: So, this is my great grandmother Lillian and grandmother Sandra.

SAMBOLIN: And they both die.

AVNER: Both died a week apart on breast cancer.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Lindsay Avner had no signs of breast cancer when she underwent a preventive double mastectomy at 23, but she did have fear.

AVNER: When I was 12, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ten months later with ovarian cancer. So, these diseases have stalked my family for years.

SAMBOLIN: Those fears were confirmed by genetic testing that says she had the same mutation predisposes women to breast cancer, the one discovered in Angelina Jolie.

AVNER: The anxiety of just waiting to get cancer versus doing something to actually reduce my risk of developing it is what prompted me to make the decision to have the double mastectomy. SAMBOLIN: Lindsay's organization Bright Pink advocates aggressive risk action, that makes sense in women with a gene mutation, say many doctors. But deciding to remove healthy breast tissue and a woman without a gene is more complicated.

DR. SEEMA KAHN, BREAST SURGEON: We really don't have any good evidence that removing a healthy breast will help women prolong her life or live a better. So, a lot of what drives those decisions is related to anxiety about a new tumor on the other side.

SAMBOLIN: A lumpectomy followed by radiation is the most common way to treat my type of breast cancer. The survival rates are similar to those who chose mastectomy. But I was not comfortable with so many suspicious areas on my scans.

(on camera): I want to show everybody the MRIs.

(voice-over): I didn't want more biopsies, potentially missed cancers and years of anxiety and screenings.

(on camera): Would you recommend for me to have a double mastectomy?

DR. THOMAS WHITT: Zoraida, I would recommend it to you only because that was your choice upon your looking it all of the information that you looked at.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Dr. Thomas Whitt counsels patients to make decisions based on facts, not fear. But that doesn't mean personal considerations won't play a role.

(on camera): So, the fear factor.

WHITT: One is the fear of having a cancer. Then there is the fear of the intervention itself. There's the fear of losing your breast. What will my husband or boyfriend think about me, what will I think about myself, how will my sexuality be affected?

And women that have a strong fear in that direction are more inclined to want to save their breast unless they actually have a diagnosed cancer.


SAMBOLIN: Such a complicated decision to make. So the breast cancer surgeon who raised concerns Dr. Seema Khan will actually be performing my double mastectomy on Tuesday and another doctor will be performing reconstructive surgery on the that same day. So when you hear from me that I'll show you how those procedures went and give you a window into what women face once they've gone up against breast cancer surgery, and you know specifically a double mastectomy.

So a couple of things I want to point out because in this piece, I really wanted to focus on this dense breast tissue, which is my issue. And a lot of women have reached out to me saying I have the exact same breast tissue that you do. My advice is talk to your radiologist about that. Actually ask your radiologist, once you have that mammogram, put it up on the screen for me show me exactly what's wrong because a radiologist really has a breadth of knowledge. And then that where you can start understanding it and understanding what they see, understanding what they potentially don't see.

And the second thing is Lindsay Avner, the young woman that you saw in this she has the opportunity to change lives. One of the things that she does, you can go on her Web site and take a look at this, is she tries to empower young women to start their self-exams at a very early age and actually walk you through, what should you be feeling?

We're all told at a very early age right, do your self breast exam? But do you really know how to do it? And there is a way to do this right. And so if you go on her Web site, she's got just a ton of information for young girls in order for them to do that.

ROMANS: Bright Pink is the name of the group right?

SAMBOLIN: Bright Pink, yes, absolutely.

BERMAN: I want to get undressed for you. Again right now because we're going to miss you.

SAMBOLIN: Oh God, this is so special.

BERMAN: We're going to miss you next week you know when you're going through all of this. But we are going to be with you. So I just want to remind --

SAMBOLIN: This is all Berman's idea by way as he starts to undress.

BERMAN: -- remind everyone here that we here are all part of Team Z.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: No hero, no comic books here. This is a Superman-like Z right now, because you are Super Z to all of us.

SAMBOLIN: I love you for that.

BERMAN: And we are in awe of you and we are with you through this whole thing.

SAMBOLIN: I know you, I know you are, and I feel you 100 percent. So thank you very much.

BERMAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right an ovation from the crew. Best of luck to you, Z.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Still ahead here on STARTING POINT, check out the live pictures of this bridge collapse in Washington State. The sun is coming up we're getting a better look at it right now. It's a lot of damage. We're going to find out what happened to that bridge, how it happened. Where else it could happen after this quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right, you're looking at live aerials of a bridge collapse in Washington State. It's along an interstate north of Seattle. It sent cars and passengers plunging into the frigid river below, 40 feet below. There are injuries, but miraculously no fatalities.

And CNN has learned the bridge has already been classified technically as functionally obsolete by state transportation officials before it came crashing down. All of this unfolding last night in rural Mt. Vernon, Washington, the Interstate 5 about an hour north of Seattle.

All right, controversial statements from billionaire hedge fund owner Paul Tudor Jones. At an investment forum last month he said there will never be as many great female investors or traders as men. When asked why? Jones said "Divorce and having kids are the kiss of death."


PAUL TUDOR JONES, FOUNDER, TUDOR INVESTMENT CORPORATION: As soon as that baby's lips touch that girl's bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea, ever desire to understand, every desire to understand what's going to make this go up or going to go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never -- which a man will never share.


ROMANS: Jones later clarified that he was speaking specifically about female traders, not managers. He also told "The Washington Post," he tells his three daughters they can do anything they set their mind to.

A 9-year-old girl goes toe-to-toe with the CEO of McDonald's. Yes, 9- year-old Hannah Robertson spoke during the company's annual shareholder meeting yesterday, saying, quote, "I don't think it's fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food." She point blank asked the CEO Don Thompson, "Don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?" Thompson thanked her for her comments and said McDonald's doesn't sell junk food.

BERMAN: So it is the unofficial start to summer, even if it won't be warm here unfortunately. We kick it off with a blockbuster weekend at the movies led by "Fast and Furious 6" if you love the first five you'll love the sixth and "The Hangover Part 3." Some are expecting a record take at the box office this weekend.

Nischelle Turner has a preview of what's to come on the big screen.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN SHOWBIZ CORRESPONDNET: It's the season of big screen action, high-voltage star power, and multimillion dollar budgets. It's the summer movie season. Memorial Day to Labor Day is the unofficial period when Hollywood goes for broke, subpoenaing big bucks to make blockbuster gold.

BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: The summer blockbusters started with "Jaws," that was insane.

TURNER: Taking a huge bite out of the summer box office, movie after movie, year after year, is this guy. And Will Smith wants to do it again with "After Earth". The sci-fi adventure co-stars Smith's son, Jaden.

What is your favorite?

JADEN SMITH, ACTOR: This one for sure.

TURNER: Smart kid, like it.

Fellow A-Listers taking center stage, Matt Damon and Jodi Foster in Elysium, Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum in "White House Down", Ryan Reynolds as "Turbo" and Brad Pitt's zombie apocalypse, "World War Z."

BRAD PITT, ACTOR: I just wanted to do a film that my boys could see before they turned 18.

The "Man of Steel" and the "Lone Ranger" each get reboots.

ARMIE HAMMER, ACTOR: You ride horses, you throw lassoes, you shoot guns; it was an amazing experience.

And a buffet of summer sequels, including "Monsters University", "Smurfs 2", "Despicable Me 2", "Grownups 2" and Hollywood nice guy, Hugh Jackman's back as "The Wolverine".

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: I'll never hurt you or anyone ever again.

Playing Wolverine for the seventh time in 12 years and working with great people, I literally pinch myself every day.

And finally, if raunchy humor gives you the giggles Seth Rogan makes his directorial debut with "This is the End".

In fact, R-rated comedies rule all summer long, like "The Hangover 3," "The Internship," "We're the Millers" and the undeniably feminine cop flick "The Heat."



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am bringing my testosterone as well.


TURNER: All right, John Berman. Now that I've set the table what are you looking forward to? What do you want to see?

BERMAN: If I can find a grownup to take me, I intend to see one of those R-rated comedies because they look really funny. But it depends if I can get in on shorts.

TURNER: Well, I have to tell you, "This is the End", is very violent, but it is very funny. My face hurt after I watched this movie. And you know what; just for you John Berman, I put together an entire summer movie special that you can see, Saturday and Sunday right here on CNN at 7:30. Some of the highlights? I went to Canada, the set of the new "X-Men 4" movie and I sat down with Hugh Jackman. I went to the desert in Southern New Mexico with Will and Jaden Smith. And also I went and hung out in Vegas with the "Hangover 3" fellows.

BERMAN: You had me at Canada. Nischelle Turner, we will watch that special. Thank you so much for being with us. Can't wait to see that special. Can't wait to see those films. STARTING POINT back in a moment.


Berman: Have a safe weekend. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello and Brooke Baldwin begins right now.