“Mission accomplished,” US Vice President Joe Biden said. “The eagle has landed.”
Appropriate words for the Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 3, with a powerful political line-up in attendance.
The JHS mascot, the eagle, was on hand for the event, as well as two live eagles with handlers from Dickerson Park Zoo.
Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert graced the podium with his own message for the JHS students.
“I am here to tell you I’ve been asked to represent every former student that walked the halls of the former high school,” Seibert said. “We’re jealous.”
Dr. CJ Huff, superintendent of Joplin Schools, choked up during much of his speech and brought to attention why the group had assembled that day.
“It’s a day of celebration and remembrance, but frankly it’s hard to celebrate this accomplishment without acknowledging the sacrifices of the families that lost loved ones,” Huff said. “May 22 is a day none of us will ever forget.”
The date in May marks the day an EF5 tornado hit Joplin, damaging nine schools and destroying six, including the high school and technical center, killing 161 people throughout the city.
The JHS students moved to a vacant storefront in the Northpark Mall for three years before the new building dedication on Friday.
The ribbon, labeled Mission Accomplished 2014, was six and a half miles long, the length of the path of tornado that decimated Joplin. Woven across the parking lots of the school, it represented the finish line of the rebuilding efforts. The school hopes to find out soon if the ribbon set a world record.
Mr. Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education had tremendous praise for the new high school.
“This is a vision of what high schools all across America should be doing, and can be doing,” Duncan said. “From that unspeakable tragedy, you have built a model that is honestly a model for the nation.”
Biden ended the dedication referring to it being Homecoming weekend for Joplin schools.
“Folks, you’ve given a new meaning to the word homecoming, an entirely new meaning,” Biden said. “Homecoming means to me return and affirmation to the basic values that make it all worthwhile, with such incredible people, like all of you here. Homecoming is about faith, it’s about hope, it’s about charity, it’s about simply caring. That’s what homecoming is about, and that is what I see here today.”