EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. -- After a tornado destroyed their school earlier this month, 34 seniors at Orrick High School are preparing to graduate in a neighboring community.
They say it won't be the same, of course, but students are prouder of their hometown than ever before.
It's the first big community event since a devastating storm struck the town of Orrick.
As 34 seniors prepare to graduate at the Excelsior Springs Performing Arts Center, nearly everyone agrees that this will be a ceremony no one will forget anytime soon.
A large crowd is expected, as Orrick students tell FOX 4 News the tornado has made bonds in the community stronger than ever. And although many say they will regret not being able to graduate in the school they spent so many years attending, they also say they appreciate the support and spirit they now see after overcoming a disaster together.
"You want to graduate at the school that you grew up going to school in," said Cody Sparks, class president. "But since we have it over here, I feel like more people are going to come since the tornado. We're Orrick Strong. There will be more people there. It will be a whole community deal. I think it will end up being pretty good anyway."
About 18 to 20 of these students have been classmates together since kindergarten. They regret not having a glorified last day for seniors or to be able to walk the halls as big people on campus during their last week. But they also say they know the people they share this moment with, they will be able to count on for the rest of their lives.
A full house is expected on Sunday for graduation as many people from Orrick are intent on showing those around them that they are not going to allow the storm to dampen this celebration.