School Butterfly Release School Butterfly Release The weather cooperated Wednesday night as thousands of Joplin area schoolchildren and their families converged on the Missouri Southern State University campus for the I Am Joplin event.
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School Butterfly Release

School Butterfly Release

School Butterfly Release

The weather cooperated Wednesday night as thousands of Joplin area schoolchildren and their families converged on the Missouri Southern State University campus for the I Am Joplin event.

The event aimed to reconnect students with their classmates and educators before the first day of school on Aug. 17 and in the wake of the May 22 tornado.

"(The students) wanted to come mainly because they wanted to see their teachers, and I think for them it's just more of a normalcy," said Rhonda Scroggins, who attended with her family.

"They're getting excited about school," she said. "It means a lot for them and for the community. It's a nice way to make it a little more normal."

Scroggins and her family moved to a temporary house in Neosho after their Joplin home was destroyed in the tornado. Her children attended Irving Elementary School, which also was destroyed. The Scroggins family just got the building permits to start on rebuilding its home, which will stand on the same plot as the old one.

Her son, Andrew, a fourth-grader, said he liked the bounce houses at the event.

Libby Turner, a federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was on hand at the event. She said FEMA developed a task force within a week of the tornado to help the schools with planning for temporary locations.

"If schools are up and running, then families will stay in the community," Turner said. "This event tonight will be a real milestone in recovery for the community and for the students, and to do this a week before school starts is terrific. Tonight is about this community coming together."

Activities in the fields around Fred G. Hughes Stadium included face painting, disc golf, inflatable bounce houses, carnival games, giveaways and a butterfly release of 1000 butterflies!.

Afterward in the stadium, events included a memorial video for those who were lost in the tornado, a moment of silence and butterfly release, prayers for the school year, and a speech by Superintendent C.J. Huff.

More than 30 organizations had booths at the event, giving away prizes and literature about support services available in the community.

"We saw that kids and everyone had anxiety and stress and the pressure, and we thought this city needs to have a good time, needs to be reunited, needs to have some peace about where their school is going to be," said Melissa Winston, one of the event organizers. "We want our students to just play together, to see their teachers and to create an atmosphere that's just fun."

-Joplin Globe

Article Posted: 03/27/2020 12:18:46 PM

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