JOPLIN, Mo. - Almost three months after a massive tornado ripped through the city of Joplin the night of high school graduation, classes are set to resume for the fall semester.
The tornado destroyed the town's high school, and classes are set to start on Wednesday. 9th and 10th graders will use an existing district building, while 11th and 12th graders will use a revamped old shopping center.
2NEWS visited the new Joplin High School Tuesday. In just 60 days, crews turned an old department store into a school.
"It was gutted. There was nothing. Nothing in this building," said Greg Boyd, assistant principal.
One of the students returning is high school senior Quinton Anderson. His home was close to the old high school and was also destroyed in the tornado.
"We sat in the inner part of our house cause we didn't have a basement, and I was fighting with one of our dogs cause he was trying to run away, and as I was fighting with him I looked up and saw sky and then something large hit my back, and that's the last thing I remember," said Anderson.
He woke up in a health care facility three days later. He had work on his eye, three implanted devices in his back and skin graphs on his legs.
But it's the wound that cut deeper that Anderson continues to heal from. The tornado took both of his parents' lives.
"When I'm just like sitting around home alone or something is when I feel them," he said.
But he says if they were here, they'd tell him to hit the books and that's just what he plans to do with a pretty tough course load.
As for the classes he's taking, "AP biology, AP lit and comp and French 4," he said.
Now this future molecular microbiologist is ready to head back to class, but it's what he learned about life this summer that goes far beyond the books.
"It just changed my perspective because, you know, how we live we really don't think each day is a gift, said Anderson. "But when you go through something like I did each day is a gift, and you don't know if you're going to be here for the next day or not."