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Joplin High School Enjoys Its First Day Of Classes On Time

Wednesday was the first day of classes for Joplin High School, and so begins a sense of normalcy for residents devastated by the May 22ndtornado that leveled a third of the city. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe was at each of the high school’s two campuses, and spoke with students and faculty on what the new semester means for the community.

[Sound: cafeteria noises]

As upperclassmen eat lunch at the new Joplin High cafeteria, some things are getting back to normal. Students browse their smartphones while munching on pizza, others scan the crowd, trays in hand, in search of their friends. It’s been almost three months since the tornado destroyed the old high school, and many were unsure if the fall semester would start on time. But 87 days later, a new school stands in an old mall department store. 17-year-old senior Lexi Willcoxon says students are amazed that school started on time.

“Whenever you heard that our high school was hit, and it was huge, and it barely fit all of us, the fact that we’re going to go to school on time was just mindboggling. Nobody really thought we could go back to school anytime soon,” said Willcoxon.

The campus in the old department store is for 11thand 12thgraders. It features brand new Smart Boards for teachers, a think tank for students, interactive TVs, a coffee shop, and a tech center. Journalism teacher Mary Crane says none of the students expected the new school to be this nice.

“I think they thought it would just be these makeshift walls and little cubicles that they would have to function in, and they were just blown away by what is all here, all the technology, and how nice the furniture is, and I think it’s really been a big encouragement to them that the school district has wanted to invest in a facility this nice, even though it’s a temporary lodging for us,” Crane said. 

Another new change is brand new Apple laptops for all the high schoolers, eliminating the need for textbooks and pencils.  17-year-old junior Tucker Sharp is one of the students who’s appreciative of all the efforts made by the school district.

“Just looking at how nice this is in 87 days, our new high school is probably going to be awesome. It definitely gives a sense of hope, and it’s pretty amazing that all this was done for us,” said Sharp.

[Sound:  Memorial school cafeteria noise]

Over at the Memorial school campus, where the freshmen and sophomores go, Principal Dr. Terry Sachetta says this new technology is a sign that the community is moving forward together.

“I think our school system has to be a leader in the community to help provide hope and to get kids back to normal, and families feeling back to normal, and get a routine in where we can teach our students and they can learn and they can progress with their lives. And a lot of times, we sat and thought about it ourselves, this is a very difficult task, but the fact is we got a lot of help from a lot of people, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Sachetta.

Sachetta estimates that it will take three years to plan and construct a permanent high school for the students. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.