Joplin Seniors Reflect as One-Year Anniversary Approaches

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JOPLIN - Even in the middle of celebration, high school seniors like David Walker of Joplin High School took the time to reflect on one memory he will never forget. On May 22, 2011, the deadliest tornado in history struck. The lives of Joplin residents were changed forever, making events like prom somewhat bittersweet.

"I know there's going to be some people who are going to be like, I wish I could have invited so and so," said David Walker.

The tornado destroyed homes, killed families and friends, but in many ways it also stripped the Joplin children of their youth.

"Our kids were out there in the dirt helping each other, running up and down streets, delivering Gatorade, doing just as much as the adults were," said Joplin resident Marilyn Six.

Knowing the importance of celebrations like prom, pop singer Katy Perry and hundreds of other sponsors stepped in with one goal: To give the seniors a break from reality and a break from the past.

"We can't ever forget what happened May 22 but we also have to move ahead to make the best of it," said Joplin High School Principal Kerry Sachetta.

It's an opinion you can hear from many other prom organizers, including Meghann Swafford who came into town from Arkansas to help.

"We still want to give back to them. We haven't forgotten them a year later. We hope they feel the love that went into planning this event," she said.

The prom looked as if someone placed Disney World into Joplin's Holiday Inn Convention Center. There was everything from larger than life-posters of Disney characters from movies like the Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, to a tea party reminiscent the MadHatter's in Alice and Wonderland. High schoolers were reminded what it was like to just be a kid again.

The experience was what everyone had hoped, students like Walker will have the memory of a fairy tale. For one night, they were able to escape.