Joplin Students Go Back To School After Deadly Tornado

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JOPLIN, MO (KTVI) - Students in tornado ravaged Joplin reported for classes today for the first time since the town was devastated by a killer tornado in late May.  Governor Jay Nixon traveled to Joplin to welcome the students back to schools and was joined by dozens of local officials and school administrators.  There is always something special about the first day of school, but this year was something extraordinary.  "It shows you that Americans can come together and can do anything and quite frankly I think it's an inspiration not only to our region and our state, but to our entire country," said Govenor Nixxon.

Today's return to the classroom serves as a stepping stone that puts the tornado in the past and restores hope in the future.  Joplin High School Principal, Kerry Sachetta, says it's all about the kids! "When you see the excitement on their faces and they know they're getting the laptop and you see all the wonderful learning space and it's not like anything they imagine, that's what makes it all worth it," Sachetta said.

For Juniors and Seniors, the future rests in this once vacant department store.  After the tornado, school administrators coordinated with CBL Malls to turn this into a state of the art learning facility.  Everything inside is new and high tech!  And thanks to a $500,000 donation from the United Arab Emeretes, each student was issued a new laptop computer.  There are no books in this school and no library.  All materials will be accessed through those laptops.

Students were clearly excited about coming to a new school, but faculty and staff are ready to step in if those smiles turn to sadness.  Counselors are on standby to help if any students have trouble dealing with the deep emotional scars that still remain.

Early indications are that up to 93% of the nearly 8,000 students enrolled last year are returning for classes this year.