President Obama to speak at Joplin H.S. graduation

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Nearly a year to the day after a deadly tornado tore through Joplin, President Barack Obama will speak at the high school graduation ceremony.

The president will join Gov. Jay Nixon at Joplin Senior High on May 21 to deliver the commencement address. On May 22, 2011, commencement ceremonies had ended about an hour before an EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, killing 161 people and causing billions of dollars of damage.

One member of the graduating class died in the storm. Seven students and one faculty member of the school also lost their lives that day.

Obama traveled to Joplin last May 29 and spoke at a memorial service on the Missouri Southern State University campus. At the service he pledged “your country will be there with you every single step of the way.”

The tornado did heavy damage to Joplin Senior High School, which has since been torn down. A former shopping mall was converted into a school and several other schools that suffered damage from the storm are occupying other vacant commercial buildings and warehouses.