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'I just wish I could stay' | Barnsdall seniors celebrate graduation

Emma Smith, Barnsdall Senior
Posted at 9:37 PM, May 17, 2024

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — Barnsdall residents had the chance to celebrate some good news; high school graduation. The seniors walking across the stage symbolized the next stage in life for everyone in town.

Before the EF-4 tornado struck town, most of the senior class went to Destin, Florida for a senior trip. Emma Smith, was one of them. She didn’t know about the tornado until her mom sent her a text. It said ‘pray for us.’

Smith and her classmates went to the living room of their vacation rental, to keep up with televised coverage of the twister. Many of them wanted to come home, but their families and school leaders insisted they stay, and enjoy it as much as possible.

On May 17, 28 seniors walked across the stage, with support from all around town. Smith says neighbors all around town congratulated her for graduating.

“There’s people stopping me in the post office this morning, I don’t even know who they are,” Smith said.

Kent Carver, Smith’s favorite teacher, was at the ceremony to support his students.

“I love kids. I love my students. I’ve been at Barnsdall for six years now. I love the atmosphere, I love the culture they have,” Carver said.

Some kids will stay in Barnsdall. Others will go off to college, or find new homes. As for Smith, she plans to attend Oklahoma State University, with plans to become a speech pathologist. She’ll have Barnsdall in mind.

“I used to be so ready to get out, but now that I’m about to go to college, I just wish I could stay,” Smith said.

Surely, Smith’s neighbors will welcome her back to town anytime.

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