Second-grader Shannon Barnstead likes Joplin because her family has room to grow a garden here.
There is room to ride her bike, and there are plenty of places to buy her sister pretty clothes.
Her fellow second-graders found a variety of reasons to like the city where they live.
“A tornado hit Joplin, but it is still awesome,” said one of Shannon’s classmates, Malachi Madison. “There are cops who arrest bad guys.”
Shannon and Malachi were among the eight pupils of teachers Brandi Rogers and Karren Neden of West Central Elementary School who spoke Monday at a ceremony at City Hall marking Joplin’s 141st birthday. All 34 students in the teachers’ two classes wrote essays describing what they have learned about the city and why they like it. The essays went on display Monday at a birthday party for Joplin.
The party, complete with cake, cookies and punch, is an annual event put on by the city and the Joplin Museum Complex.
Brad Belk, director of the museum, served as master of ceremonies. He said the schoolchildren were invited to put on the program because they are Joplin’s future leaders. He said they will witness history being made during their years in school as Joplin and the state observe other significant birthdays in the next decade.
Four pupils from each of the two classes were selected to read essays about Joplin at Monday’s ceremony. From Rogers’ classes were Shannon and Malachi as well as Erica Busby and Christian Limon. Those who presented their essays from Neden’s class were Keeana Stephens, Kadden Valleyo, Bailey Waddell and Jacob Williams.
Rogers said the 17 children in her class wrote an essay and drew a picture about Joplin.
“We did auditions in our classroom, and the students went around and shared with other teachers,” as part of the procedure of selecting which four would speak, Rogers said.
As part of the students’ research, Belk visited the classes to give them information about Joplin. “We did share some of Joplin’s history,” Rogers said. “We talked about how it became a city and how Joplin has changed throughout the years.”
Neden said her pupils also went through several steps to compose their essays.
“It was a big deal,” she said. “We all read our pieces in front of our class.” The class watched how each student spoke, and “we picked the ones who seemed most comfortable” speaking in front of people. Another requirement was that the picture that was drawn went along with what was mentioned in the essay.
Kadden Valleyo said he learned, “There has been a lot of changes to us since the years have passed. I learned that there is more stuff every day” in the city.
Pupil Faith Armstrong said, “I learned that Joplin is a small town. I like Joplin cause it’s really fun.”
Josiah Stewart noted that while he learned that Joplin has changed over the years, he loves Joplin “because it’s got awesome restaurants.”
Kaylee Rion said Joplin has a big heart.
“What I like about Joplin is that it has a lot of good people who like to help people,” she said.
THE ESSAYS OF THE STUDENTS are hanging on the walls of the north corridor on the main floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St., for public viewing during business hours.