President's Visit Caps Memorable Year For Joplin Seniors
JOPLIN, Missouri - One year ago, it was hail and debris, as an epic EF-5 tornado ripped through the heart of Joplin, Missouri. 161 people were killed, and a third of the city disappeared.
That killer twister struck on Graduation Night 2011. Monday night, the Class of 2012 got a visit from the Commander in Chief – a memorable close for a chapter in the lives of 400 Joplin seniors.
Joplin High School seniors didn't expect the President would speak at their high school graduation.
They also didn't expect their school would be reduced piles of concrete and twisted metal by one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history.
The tattered traces of school colors still dot the rubble where Joplin High once stood. Students spent their senior year at Northpark Mall - a shopping center transformed into a school.
Busses park beside the Sears and JC Penney. Athletic teams use facilities all over town.
A challenge that students realized early on was nothing compared to massive struggles tornado torn Joplin deals with each day.