How a community responded after an EF2 tornado threatened the graduation for 21 seniors

SEYMOUR- Iowa kicked off severe weather season early this year, when spring-like storms popped up in late winter.

Wayne County saw the brunt of the destruction, after a tornado destroyed homes, but luckily no one lost their lives. One group hit hardest in the aftermath were students with no place to return to, and a group of high school seniors getting ready to graduate.

Joshua Brown roams the hallways at Seymour High School, counting the days until graduation. But his bout of senioritis is a bit more than your average case.
Joshua Brown, HS Senior
 
"Once you do graduate, that means a lot; that you made it though," Brown says. "That you graduated from Seymour - it's a big deal."
 
After an EF-2 tornado ripped through Seymour in March, the high schoolers were left to attend classes at a converted old care center.
 
Instead of a classroom, students spent the day learning life lessons, working hand in hand to pick up the pieces and plan for the future. 
 
Only one location in town was big enough to house all the students. So with a little paint and a lot of pride, the kids and staff went back to work, using a flagpole bent by the storm as a symbol of who they are.
 
"It's been bent but its still going," Brown says. 
 
Despite a major disruption to their senior years, commencement date never changed: May 13. After putting up with the worst mother nature had to offer, it was only fitting conditions were perfect when 21 seniors received their high school diplomas. 
 
"We're always going to be remembered as the senior class that survived the tornado and with the community's help graduated from a care center", says Brown with a laugh.
 
Looking back at a year no one will ever forget, everyone was due for a good laugh. And no worse for the wear, they'll push on just like that symbol in front of their school
 
"No matter what, we have each other's back and we will come through it," says senior Danielle Furlin. "And the community has been amazing to support us through it all and we just couldn't have done it without everyone's help."

 

 

The cleanup and repair of the school will continue through the end of this year. According to the principal, the district is still working out damage estimates with insurance companies. The earliest they could be back in session would be this December. 


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