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
  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Catholic schools to hold annual spring auction

    The Joplin Area Catholic Schools spring auction will be staged Saturday at the Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center, 5300 S. Range Line Road in Joplin.

    April 19, 2014

  • Wally Kennedy MUG72.jpg Wally Kennedy: Another pizza choice and ice cream on the way

    A new pizza restaurant is coming to the northwest corner of Stone’s Corner in the Village of Airport Drive. Piez is opening this week in a storefront that formerly housed Quincy Magoo’s, 6039 N. Main Street Road, which has been closed for more than two years.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • mike pound_cnhi .jpg Mike Pound: No more hiding Easter eggs or emotions

    Well, that’s a wrap on the Easter egg hunts. For about 15 years we have staged not one, but two Easter egg hunts for our now 16-year-old daughter, Emma.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

Must Read


Missouri Republicans are considering a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing laws the state considers to be infringements on gun rights: barring them from future careers in state law enforcement agencies. Do you think this proposal has merit?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter