MOORE, Okla. - More than 2,000 seniors were handed their diplomas Saturday, just five days after a tornado left their town in shambles.
The EF-5 tornado left 24 dead, including 10 children, and an estimated $2 billion in damage.
For the students graduating though, the ceremony brings with it both happiness and sorrow.
"It's been difficult. Several mixed emotions," said student Kamber Crowe. "Just a roller coaster of emotions."
PHOTOS: The aftermath in Moore (http://bit.ly/may20photos)
For many like Crowe, the ceremonies Saturday are personal and a struggle. Sharon Liston, a teacher in Moore, said graduates will now start a new phase in their life, just as their town is too.
"It's a new beginning because you literally have to start over," said Liston.
As the new graduates hug their proud parents, most realize they are forever linked with tragedy, which can also serve as inspiration.
"I just think the only place we can go from here is up," said Crowe. "It kind of gave us hope for the future. Continue and move on."
PHOTOS: Remembering the victims (http://bit.ly/10TN0gg)
FULL COVERAGE of the tornadoes that hit Oklahoma go to www.kjrh.com/tornado .