431 students stand Joplin Strong as high school graduates

Freshman year, they saw their high school destroyed by the 2011 tornado. Today, they stand Joplin Strong as graduates.
431 graduates walked in today’s ceremony and celebrated completing 13 years of school work.
For students at Joplin High School, the road to graduation was not easy.
It included an EF5 tornado and classes in 3 different buildings over 4 years.
“We went through very traumatic experiences, personal and all together as a group,” said graduate Louis Clark.
“We all kind of pulled together and we all knew the struggles that each one of us had,” said graduate Trey Williams.
Many students agree losing their original high school building better connected the class.
“It brought us closer and made us better Joplin strong,” said graduate Haleigh Hawkins. “We’re Eagles, we soar high.”
“They just created the culture that they wanted their high school to be in 3 different settings and I couldn’t be more proud of a group than I am of this class,” said Sandra Cantwell, freshmen principal.
The class of 2014 is also Joplin High School’s class with with highest graduation rate.
As mentioned in commencement speeches, many deem the class of 2014 as ‘unforgetable’.
“I thiunforgettable have something that no other graduating class will ever have,” said Debbie Fort, Joplin School Board. “They have developed an endurance, a patience and a fortitude to reach down deep and just keep going.”
Faculty and family members say this class has set a positive foundation for those attending the new building in the Fall.
“I can definitely see how they’ve paved the way,” said Felicia Spicer, family member. “They’ve been role models for the younger kids.”
“They’re a little bit disappointed that they don’t get to go into the new building next year, but it will be okay,” said Brandy Leavitt, mother of a graduate.
As for the graduates, they say overcoming the challenges has left them with a stronger sense of Eagle pride.
“I’m nervous, I’m excited and I feel like crying though, it’s been a long ride,” Clark said.
“Being a part of Joplin and graduating from Joplin Schools, it’s made a difference for us all,” Hawkins said.
Many of the graduates are now attending Project Graduation, an all night lock-in held at Victory Ministry & Sports Complex, with many games, prizes and activities to ensure the kids have a fun and safe way to celebrate their accomplishments.