The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 19, 2013

‘Lucky ’13’: 481 graduate from Joplin High School

JOPLIN, Mo. — Samantha Mahurin believes students in the Joplin High School class of 2013 are unique in that they have survived — together — what she calls the “roller coaster” of their high school career.

“There’s no hatred in our class because we all know what we’ve been through,” she said. “That’s not common for high school.”

Marking a return to normalcy after the May 2011 tornado, a total of 481 seniors graduated Sunday from Joplin High School in a commencement ceremony at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center at Missouri Southern State University.

Calling it the “most persistent class in the recorded history of our school,” Principal Kerry Sachetta said the class will likely set a record for the district’s graduation rate. At the end of the summer session, the class is expected to exceed the 81.6 percent graduation rate set by the class of 2010, he said.

The class also has been awarded about $2.1 million in college scholarships, according to Greg Boyd, the senior class principal.

During the two-hour ceremony, the class was lauded by principals and administrators for its compassion, its willingness to support one another and its ability to adjust to unusual circumstances after the tornado.

“These young men and women have been courageous and came through a lot,” Sachetta said. “They have made the best of a difficult situation beginning two years ago.”

Randy Steele, who spent the past year as president of the Board of Education, said the class’s four-year high school career was “anything but normal.” Students attended the former Joplin High School building at 20th Street and Indiana Avenue for two years before moving to the junior-senior campus at Northpark Mall for their final two years, and their education shifted from being textbook-based to being computer-based.

“But you never wavered,” Steele told the students. “You never let it show that it wasn’t normal.”

Superintendent C.J. Huff said the class has displayed a “quiet leadership,” not having been in the spotlight like the class of 2012 but having devoted just as much service and commitment to the community and fellow classmates.

Graduate Elaina Warren said the transitions over the past four years weren’t always easy. When she and her classmates first entered the campus at the mall as juniors last year, the transition to computer-based classes was something she didn’t initially like, she said.

“After you get used to it and get settled in, you kind of get used to it,” she said.

Warren, who plans to attend MSSU in the fall to major in Spanish and juvenile justice, said she thinks her class is closer than other graduating classes might be because of what it has gone through since the tornado.

“We’ve been there to support each other, a lot of us since freshman year,” she said. “It’s really nice to know that I can count on a lot of these people. We’re all friends, and we all keep in touch with each other.”

Graduate Felisha Derrick said she thinks that having the high school split between grade levels, with only the upperclassmen at the mall campus, forced her class members to depend more on one another in the two years since the tornado.

She said she doesn’t necessarily know every one of her 480 classmates, but she’s certain that any of them would be there for her if needed.

“We have a special bond,” she said.

Derrick said she will leave in July for Chicago, where she will attend boot camp for the Navy. She plans to eventually become an aviation electrician for the Navy, she said.

“I’m pumped,” she said of finally reaching graduation. “It’s not going to be easy, but I’m ready to go.”

Graduates Sam Croy, Brian Hughes and Kyle Dillon were commencement speakers.

Croy said his class will not be defined by the tornado. Instead, he and his classmates now have the chance to prove themselves through their words, their character and their actions.

“We are indeed ‘lucky ’13,’” he said.

In remembrance

THE JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2013 held a moment of silence Sunday for classmates Lantz Hare, who died in the May 2011 tornado, and Cooper Vocelka, who died earlier this month of a brain tumor.

Text Only
Local News
  • State audit of Joplin School District begins

    Staff members from the state auditor’s office have begun their audit of the Joplin School District, Superintendent C.J. Huff said Monday. They are expected to be in the district four days per week for the next five to six months, or perhaps longer, until the audit is complete, Huff said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Burglary conviction draws shock prison time

    A Joplin man who received 120 days of shock incarceration time Friday in a drunken-driving case in Jasper County Circuit Court was assessed a concurrent sentence Monday in a burglary case.

    July 21, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Family gatherings mirror circle of life

    The annual family gathering is getting bigger. There tends to be an ebb and a flow to most family gatherings. When you’re a kid, and especially if you’re a kid from a large Catholic family, the gatherings seem to be huge.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • 071714 Jasper Cty Dispatch1_72.jpg Area communities, Jasper County work to improve communications

    The first law enforcement officer to respond to a fatal shooting last November at Northpark Mall was from the Duquesne Police Department — not Joplin. Joplin police Chief Jason Burns said he wasn’t bothered by that. “We dispatch for them, and they had an officer close who could get there faster,” he said. “And getting help to people as quickly as possible is more important than jurisdictions.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • New and old TIF districts on agenda for Joplin council

    Another tax increment financing district is being proposed for Joplin, this one along South Main Street. The area is close to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin that is set to open next year. RKS Development is seeking authorization from the Joplin City Council when it meets Monday night to prepare a request to establish a TIF district.

    July 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Family grows by one — a black Lab named Raven

    If you haven’t experienced the feeling of a tiny puppy in your lap at the end of a perfect July Saturday — hammock time, s’mores, leisurely walks, you know the kind — I highly recommend it. It is pure joy.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Car show, sidewalk sale and more scheduled for weekend in Carthage

    All roads leading to Carthage should be packed this weekend as numerous events geared toward entertainment, cultural pursuits and bargain hunting are expected to pull in large crowds.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Hobby Lobby lawyer to speak at watermelon feed

    Josh Hawley, who helped represent Hobby Lobby in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act, has been added to the list of speakers for Thursday’s annual watermelon feed sponsored by Newton County Republicans.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read


Do you think Missouri should pass legislation that would allow a prescription drug database to be kept?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter