Words of support flow at Clements High's first day back - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Words of support flow at Clements High's first day back

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School was back in session nearly two weeks after tornadoes left dozens of students homeless. School was back in session nearly two weeks after tornadoes left dozens of students homeless.
LIMESTONE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

For the first time in nearly two weeks, Clements High School and Blue Springs Elementary students returned to the classroom. Limestone County school leaders said tornadoes destroyed more than 100 students' homes on April 28.

Both schools held rallies, and students had opportunities to show support for displaced students.

District leaders met with the senior class at Clements High School on Thursday. Many of the students there Thursday were meeting for the first time since the storms.

The superintendent said that he wanted to calm the seniors' fears as they enter the final month before they receive their diplomas, and squash any rumors about not graduating on-time.

Among his words of encouragement, Dr. Tom Sisk told the assembly of students, "You're a great looking group, you really are, and I couldn't be more proud of you."

"Graduation is going to happen, and it is going to happen on-time, and it's going to be fine," Sisk told the seniors.

Clements senior class president Alec Van Wagnen said the memories he and the rest of his classmates have forged over the last two weeks will stick with him forever.

"I'm going to remember how we all came together and how this entire community was able to support each other in a time of need," Van Wagnen said.

Limestone County school leaders will remain on-hand in case some students still have needs. The superintendent wants students to spend the next few days healing, but challenged every senior to finish strong and graduate.

"Adversity is the fire by which challenge becomes opportunity," said Dr. Sisk.

A Clements sophomore, Dustin Neely, got up in front of his classmates and read a poem he wrote. The title, according to school leaders, is now the theme for the rest of the school year: "Rise."

Neely didn't know the right way to grieve, reflect and move forward from the tornadoes that affected so many of his students. He said he decided to write the poem because he thought it would help bring the community together.

Superintendent Sisk said he plans on framing a copy of the poem at the Limestone County Schools central office. Neely said he just hopes his poem helps.

District leaders said out of the 588 Clements students, 49 were absent. 54 students are homeless, a ratio of 1 out of every 11 pupils.

The district has begun gathering school supplies for those that need them, such as book bags. Limestone County DHR stuffed 104 bags for the students reported homeless. Faculty handed them out Thursday morning.

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