The Joplin High School Class of 2012 has graduated in a ceremony that took on a double meaning, as President Barack Obama and Governor Jay Nixon helped to celebrate the class and to mark the one year anniversary of the tornado that devastated the community.
The President greeted the 431 members of the Joplin Class of 2012 ahead of the ceremony. Then in his address, he recalled what happened nearly a year earlier only hours after the Class of 2011 graduated.
“The most powerful tornado in six decades tore a path of devastation through Joplin that was nearly a mile wide and thirteen long. In just 32 minutes it took thousands of homes and hundreds businesses and 161 of your neighbors, friends and family.”
Some of those killed were close to the graduates. “It took a classmate, Will Norton, who had just left this auditorium with a diploma in his hand. It took Lantz Hare, who should have received his diploma next year.”
The night was also marked with humor. Class President Chloe Hadley recalled how her senior year had been spent in makeshift facilities, including a local shopping center. “With all confidence I can say I am proud to be a member of the North Park Mall graduates of 2012.”
Superintendent C.J. Huff told the graduates he is proud of them. “If I could have picked a motto for this class, it would simply be this, ‘No excuses.’ Class of 2012, you have shown amazing leadership and character in the face of overwhelming adversity. You have shown the world not only that of which you are capable but also that of which you are made.”
AUDIO: Hear Governor Nixon’s speech, 9:18
AUDIO: Joplin School District Superintendent C.J. Huff, 7:13