Lake HS students thrive 1 year after tornado

May 31, 2011 3:53:30 PM PDT
One year ago, Lake High School, the place that 400 student called home, was swept away by a tornado. The kids have learned a lot since the twister hit, and now they're trying to pass along some of that insight to the kids in Joplin.It was dark on June 5, 2010 when the tornado struck the high school, but the images from the immediate aftermath stay with students and staff.

The Lake High School building was destroyed, but it takes more than a tornado to keep the Flyers down. As they approach the one year anniversary, the students seem to have thrived. In fact, test scores for tenth graders actually went up!

High school junior Hunter Johnson has the perspective of someone older than her 17 years. "You can't take anything for granted anymore," she says.

The storms also failed to dampen Nathan Pennington's sunny disposition. "We lost a lot, but we were also given a lot," he says.

They've also learned that spirit has nothing to do with place and everything to do with people. Perhaps no other school in the country is better equipped to lend support and advice to high schoolers in Joplin, Missouri.

"Live high school," says Hunter. "I mean, even if you might not have a high school, live it and have fun."

Hunter believes that the kids dealing with the natural disaster can thrive through service. "Sometimes you feel you can't do anything, but once you get involved in service you feel so much better about yourself, you feel like you're giving back," she says.

The superintendent, who is overseeing the continued academic achievement of the students, while also overseeing the construction of the new school, has already taken time out to talk on the phone with administrators in Joplin.

He says, "The thing that I have told their administrators is that there's no blueprint on how to re-build. Our decision-making framework was what is best for our kids." It's a framework no tornado can shake.

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