WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

In Joplin, a senior year to remember after tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Joplin High School's Class of 2012 will cap a senior year marked by tragedy and perseverance tonight with a commencement speech by President Barack Obama.

The president will visit southwest Missouri the day before the one-year anniversary of the country's deadliest single tornado in six decades. The May 22, 2011, twister killed 161 people, injured hundreds more and destroyed thousands of buildings, including Joplin High. Five other Joplin schools were also destroyed, with four more among the damaged buildings.

Joplin High juniors and seniors attended school in a converted big-box retail store at the city's only mall, with freshmen and sophomores at a separate temporary location across town.

The United Arab Emirates government helped equip each Joplin high school student with a laptop computer through a $1 million donation.

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