Yesterday Governor Jay Nixon (D) delivered an address to the 2012 graduates of Joplin High School at their commencement held on the campus of Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.
….[applause, cheers] Governor Jay Nixon (D): Thank you and good evening. Over the past year the Joplin Schools have faced and overcome mandy, many daunting challenges. That was possible because of the vision, leadership and dedication of your superintendent. With unwavering courage and unshakable resolve, C.J. Huff has led the Joplin Schools forward. [cheers, applause] He has been an inspiration to us all. I’m proud to have worked closely in partnership with him, I’m even more proud to call him my friend. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking one of Missouri’s, one of America’s, finest leaders and educators, C.J. Huff. [applause, cheers]…
…Exactly one year ago to the day I stood on this same stage to address the college graduates of Missouri Southern State University. It was a time of optimism, a time to mark a major milestone, atime to look ahead toward the bright horizon, and with full hearts and soaring hopes. The next day changed everything. The next day changed us all. But what a difference a year makes.
And tonight, we gather together, as we have so many times in the past year, to celebrate another Joplin milestone. Joplin High School, class of two thousand and twelve, congratulations. We are so proud of you. [applause, cheers] All that you have achieved reflects your strength of character, hard work, and high aspirations. It also reflects the character of this community. This is a community of optimists, this is a community of believers, this is a community of fighters. This is a community that never gave up, never gave in, and with hope in its heart and steel in its spine has come back stronger and better than ever. [cheer, applause] From day one your faith and your fight have shown the world that the spirit of Joplin is unbreakable.
Joplin lost many things in the storm but never lost its heart or soul. Because the schools are the heart and soul of Joplin, as they are across our great state and great nation. Our schools are a unifying force, a source of identity and pride. They are citadels of shared values, cherished hopes, and common dreams. Public education is a bond not only between students and teachers, it is a bond between generations, between a community’s leaders and to children who will one day carry on their unfinished work. Joplin schools became the rallying point for this community.
With classes set to resume on August seventeenth there wasn’t much time, but with each passing day, as the storms of spring gave way to the heat of summer Joplin’s army gained ground. And Joplin became a rallying point for a much larger community, a community of people so inspired by your remarkable story that they needed to be part of it. They came by the thousands, from all faiths and all walks of life, from Alaska to Florida, from Sweden to Japan.
Brick by brick and board by board Joplin rose from the rubble. In Joplin the sun rises every morning on a different place and sets every evening on a better place. And so, just eighty-seven days after the most devastating tornado in our history Joplin schools opened, just as Dr. Huff promised on August seventeenth. [applause]
That is the spirit of Joplin and each one of you is part of it. This class, this school, and this community will forever stand as a symbol of the best in our nation and the best in us. Tonight we look towards the bright horizon stretched before the class of two thousand and twelve. With full hearts and soaring hopes we celebrate the parents and grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the brothers and sisters, the friends and neighbors who have loved and supported the class of two thousand and twelve since they were in kindergarten. The faith and values you have instilled in these young adults are the bedrock they will build their lives on. That foundation cannot be moved.
We celebrate the faculty, staff and administration of Joplin High School. In a year like no other you put your personal needs aside and always put your students first. For your abiding compassion and devotion, we will be forever in your debt. We celebrate each and every member of the Joplin community who gave so selflessly, worked so tirelessly to ensure a bright future for your children. And you know, they will carry on your unfinished work. Most of all we celebrate you, the Joplin High School Class of two thousand and twelve. The world will never forget what you achieved here. You have been tried and tested, and are stronger for it, smarter, too. You are now ready to take all that you’ve learned at Joplin High, and use it to pursue your dreams, to become a doctor or a dancer, a soldier or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur. You have learned, perhaps too soon, that life is a fragile thread that binds us all together. Never take a single moment for granted.
You know because you lived it, that from great adversity great blessings flow. And with teamwork, tenacity, and the grace of God all things are possible. Class of two thousand and twelve…[applause][cheers]
Joplin One Year Later (May 22, 2012)