Joplin High School: Victims Remembered At Obama Commencement Speech One Year After The Country's Deadliest Tornado

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Joplin High School
On the one year anniversary of the country's deadliest single tornado that hit Joplin, MO. President Barack Obama is set to give a commencement speech for the Joplin High School Class of 2012, as they try and move past the event that defined the class before them.

Tuesday, May 22, marks the one year anniversary of the country's deadliest single tornado that hit Joplin, MO.

The Joplin tornado, as it is now known, was a catastrophic multi-vortex tornado that struck the city of Joplin in the in the late afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011.

While the twister was part of a larger late-May tornado outbreak sequence, by the time it reached Joplin, it had taken on massive size defined by a width in excess of 1 mile and rapidly intensified as it tracked eastward across the city.

The ensuing carnage resulted in the loss of 161 human lives, hundreds of additional injuries, and the destruction thousands of buildings, including that of Joplin High School.

The twister hit the city just hours after the 2011 high school graduation, leaving a bad stain on the legacy of the Joplin High Class of 2011 and their younger classmates as well.

One year after the Joplin Tornado, President Barack Obama is set to give a commencement speech for the 2012 graduating class, as they try and move past the event that defined the class before them.

Obama is expected to memorialize the 161 people killed in the tornado, as well as celebrate the success of the recovery effort so far in Joplin, where a temporary high school was set up at a local mall in time for the start of the 2011-12 school year.

While the insurance payout is expected to around $3 billion, with around 16,656 insurance claims having been reported as of July 15, 2011, temporary housing has been provided to more than 500 families in the Joplin area, according to the Washington Post.

Despite the bad memories that surrounded the area where Joplin High School is located, students embraced their return to a school they saw as a refuge -- a safe haven in a town otherwise gone awry, Joplin High teacher Brenda White told ABC News.

Those kids who lost something needed normalcy, she said. And there was no real place to go. But school is a normal place.

According to the English teacher, the Joplin tornado was a factor in bringing the students and faculty together, making high school cliques a thing of the past. White also mentioned that fights and other disciplinary violations declined dramatically as a result of the tornado.

Once we had been through (everything) this last year, people just weren't interested in a lot of the general high school nonsense, graduating Joplin senior Derek Carter, told ABC News Everyone realized that the carefree nature of high school that we always had, it just doesn't fit as well anymore.

The past year has brought much appreciation and respect for Joplin, as celebrities have come out in full force to support the town and students especially.

From American Idol winner David Cook's performance at the homecoming dance to pop star Katy Perry's welcome message for prom, the Joplin High School Class of 2012 has had a year that's been far from ordinary.

On May 22, the Joplin school system will break ground at three new schools being built to replace those lost last year, including a new high school expected to open in 2014, according to ABC News.

More than $60 million in federal loans and grants has been made available to rebuild the schools, while nearly $150 million will be spent to help rebuild other public infrastructure.  

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