Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teachers move belongings out of tornado-stricken East

East Middle School teachers put on their hardhats and returned to their classrooms today for the first time since a tornado destroyed part of the school May 22.

Teachers were allowed to remove their personal belongings, so construction can begin to get East ready to go by Aug. 17, when classes are scheduled to begin.

Students' belongings were removed from lockers and will be returned to them June 9 during get-togethers at the two Joplin bowling alleys. More information about those gathering can be found on earlier posts on East Middle School Roundabout.

(Photos: Teachers take stuff outside, all textbooks were destroyed,Mr. Cook salvages a photo, and a look at Mrs. Mense's room. In the video, workers and teachers remove items from the seventh grade hallway.)

Chanci McGowen: It's horrible, it's just devastating to see the destruction of my school, my home

Chanci McGowen, one of the first group of eighth graders at East Middle School during the 2009-2010 school year, lost her home and her high school in the tornado. She is featured in the latest CNN Student News interview.

Also interviewed is former South Middle School student Katie Wood, who graduated from JHS May 22 hours before the tornado hit.

The Joplin portion of the video starts about halfway through it.

The transcript of the Joplin part of the accompanying video is printed below:

Tornado Recovery

AZUZ: Recovery efforts are getting started in Joplin, Missouri, and help is coming from some unexpected places. For example, a group of homeless volunteers from Kentucky. They collected donations for the tornado victims and then drove to Joplin to distribute them. Another unique source of help: an elephant from a circus that was supposed to perform in the area. The show, of course, couldn't happen. But the animal was able to use its strength to help workers clear heavy debris from some areas. Many residents of Joplin are still coming to grips with the devastation that hit their hometown. Morgan Schutters of affiliate KODE reports on the tornado's impact on the Joplin High School community.


MORGAN SCHUTTERS, KODE REPORTER: Katie Wood graduated from Joplin High School just an hour before the tornado hit.

KATIE WOOD, JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI: Even looking at it, it's still really hard to believe it.

SCHUTTERS: Now, she's singing the national anthem at a memorial service for her classmates and the community.

WOOD: It's so hard singing it right in front of my school that just blew away.

SCHUTTERS: But Joplin High School sophomore Chanci McGowen still has the rest of her high school career ahead of her, as she looks at what is left in shambles.

CHANCI MCGOWEN, JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: It's indescribable. It's horrible, just devastating to see all the destruction of my school, my home.

SCHUTTERS: McGowen is one of many students who lost both.

MCGOWEN: It was heartbreaking. My whole neighborhood is gone, but everyone's OK.

SCHUTTERS: It was a somber afternoon as they gathered outside the school. A moment of silence honoring military and tornado victims. Eight people in the Joplin R-8 School District are confirmed dead: seven students and one staff member.

WOOD: Wondering who is still alive and who's not.

SCHUTTERS: Superintendent Dr. CJ Huff said last Friday, when he got word, his world stopped. Sorrow for the lost and relief for the living.

CJ HUFF, SUPERINTENDENT, JOPLIN R-8 SCHOOL DISTRICT: As a result of your diligence and unwavering fortitude in the face of insurmountable challenges, 100 percent of our family are accounted for.

SCHUTTERS: Summer classes will begin as scheduled in less than three weeks, on June 13th.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Huff: 100 percent of Joplin School family is accounted for

The search for members of the Joplin R-8 family ended Friday, with eight members killed in the May 22 tornado, Superintendent Dr. C. J. Huff said this afternoon at a gathering of the district employees, parents, and students, held in the parking lot at Joplin High School, which was destroyed during the tornado May 22.

"At 3:16 last Friday, I received a text message that indicated that mission was complete. As a result of your diligence and unlaboring fortitude in the face of insurmountable challenges, 100 percent of our family are accounted for," Superintendent Dr. C. J. Huff said.

"Today we grieve the loss of eight members of our family. We lost seven children and one educator and today we celebrate that we are all together again in body and eternal spirit," Dr. Huff said.

"Schools are at the heart of every community," Huff said, and pointed that the schools are helping lead the charge in rebuilding the community.

Huff also reassured staff that the loss of buildings would not also result in the loss of jobs.

"We need you now more than ever," Huff said.

School will be back in session June 13 when summer school starts, Huff said. Construction began at East Middle School Thursday and all students will be back in class when August 17 arrives, Huff said.

Seven students, one teacher killed in tornado

From the Joplin School District:
We have been able to account for the status of 100% of our students and staff. We grieve the loss of 8 members of our family - 7 children and 1 educator.

Joplin Schools Operation Center

Joplin North Middle School

102 N. Gray Avenue

Joplin, MO 64801

(417) 625-5270

We are committed to beginning the 2011-2012 school year on time, 79 days from now on Aug. 17. We are partnering with Crossland Construction, R. E. Smith, and PLJBD Architects to meet this goal.

Demolition of the damaged portion of East Middle School began May 26, 2011. The affected areas of East are being removed and reconstruction will begin as soon as possible. Governor Jay Nixon provided assistance in expediting this process. Reconstruction efforts have also begun at Cecil Floyd Elementary and the administration building.

We received an initial $5,000,000 from Traveler’s Insurance to begin our reconstruction efforts.

The damage to our district's schools was devastating.

• Three school buildings were destroyed, including our high school.

• Three schools were severely damaged.

• Two schools have possible roof damage.

• Several district support facilities sustained some damage.

• The remaining 11 buildings were not damaged.

Monetary donations for the district are also being accepted. Checks can be made out to -

Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund

Attn. Kim Vann
102 N. Gray Avenue
Joplin, MO 64801

US Bank has also set up the ability for anyone across the country to donate to Joplin Schools by dropping off their donation by any US Bank.

Rebuildjoplin.org is live. This site provides a master list of resources available for those affected or those wanting to help. Its an initiative by Bright Futures to serve those affected by the May 22 tornado
Summer Send-Off Events

Each building will host a summer send-off event for staff and students. Students will be able to pick up personal belongings, turn in books and reconnect with classmates and teachers.

South Middle School - Wednesday, June 1, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at South MS. Pizza will be served.

Jefferson Elementary – Wednesday, June 1, 1-3 p.m. in the cafeteria at Jefferson.

Irving Elementary - Thursday, June 2, 3-5 p.m. at South Middle School.

Kelsey Norman Elementary– Friday, June 3 from 9-11 a.m. at Kelsey Norman.

Additional dates will be announced at a later time.

Summer School

Open enrollment for summer school will begin on Tuesday, May 31 and will take place until Friday, June 10. Families may enroll students in person at Stapleton Elementary School or Memorial Education Center from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, or by phone at 417-625-5290.

Students previously enrolled in middle school or high school summer school must re-enroll. Families with elementary students who previously enrolled need to contact the district only if their enrollment status has changed. Please call us at 417-625-5290 with any changes.

Elementary summer school will take place from June 13 to July 29 at West Central, Stapleton and McKinley. Students enrolled in summer school at Cecil Floyd will attend Stapleton and students enrolled at Emerson will attend McKinley. Hours will be 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Summer school for middle school students will take place at South Middle School from June 13 to July 1. Hours will be 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Summer school for high school credit recovery students will take place at South Middle School from June 13 to July 1. Hours will be 9:00 to 11:45 a.m. and 12:15 to 3:00 p.m.

All students will receive free breakfast and lunch and transportation will be provided. Pick-up and drop-off locations will be determined by enrollment.

Video: Joplin High School will be rebuilt

In this reel of coverage offered by Columbia KOMU reporter Hillary Mullin of her coverage of the Joplin tornado, the reporter concentrates on Joplin High School, noting the vow made by Superintendent C. J. Huff that the school will be rebuilt.

The clips also include an interview with high school senior Emma Meek.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

East Middle School seventh grader Zach Williams, 12, killed in tornado

Death struck East Middle School one week ago as the tornado that ripped through Joplin took the life of seventh grader Zach Williams.
The obituary information below is taken from the Bradford Funeral Home website.

Zachary Allen Williams was born June 19, 1998 at Fort Leonard Wood Memorial Community Hospital in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to Franklin Eugene Williams and Tammy Renee Clark Niederhelman. He lost his life in the tornado at Joplin, Missouri, Sunday evening, May 22, 2011 making his age 12 years 11 months and 3 days.

Zach was a student at East Middle School in Joplin where he attended the 7th grade. He attended the Calvary Baptist Church in Joplin. Zach was a happy person who would strike up a conservation with anyone. He enjoyed hot wheel cars, legos, riding his bike, and spending time with his friends. He was looking forward to his summer vacation, so he could spend more time with family and read more of his favorite books.

He is preceded in death by his great grandpa’s, Howard Jackson and R.L. Clark, great great grandfather Pearl Jaco, great grandmother Maxine Clark, great great grandmother Gladys Jaco.

Zach is survived by his mother Tammy Niederhelman and husband Tony of Joplin, Missouri; his father Frank Williams and wife Valerie of Mayesville, North Carolina, brother Andy Williams of Mayesville, North Carolina, grandparents Earnest and Kathy Clark of Summersville, Missouri; grandparents Jim and Kathleen Williams of Summersville, Missouri, Helen and Frank Jones of Terre Haute, Indiana; great grandmother Lillie Jackson of Summersville, MO, uncle’s and aunt’s, Chad and Billie Clark and children, Austin and Brittani and future son-in-law Levi of Nesho, MO, Jim Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Warren Williams and wife Vicki of St. Louis, Missouri, Cindy Heller Springfield, Missouri, several great uncles and aunts, cousins and friends.

Memorial Services will be held Monday, May 30, 2011 at 1 Pm at Bradford Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Gary Jackson officiating. Visitation will begin at 11 AM on Monday until service time at 1PM. Arrangements under the care of Bradford Funeral Home of Summersville.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Joplin schools work toward opening on time

Efforts made by the Joplin R-8 School District to start the school year on time at East Middle School and all other schools despite Sunday's tornado were discussed by school officials during a news conference at North Friday:

The Joplin school district took a critical step Thursday by seeking a permit to demolish and remove sections of the damaged East Middle School.

Superintendent C.J. Huff said East, one of three middle schools, is the largest school building that can be repaired. It can serve up to 750 students.

He said nearly all classrooms at East were deemed structurally sound by an engineer, and the others, along with common spaces such as the gym and cafeteria, will be rebuilt.

The district took a symbolic step this week by hanging a large flag -- one of 20 donated by Ozark Flag Company in Springfield -- at Joplin High. Others will be flown at other schools.

"That was a proud moment for us," Huff said. "We need to fly that flag high in the part of town hit hardest."

After the tornado struck Sunday, just after the high school graduation, the district started to track down students and staff.

During a Thursday news conference at North Middle School, Huff said the district finally knew the status of all 1,100 employees and 90 percent of the nearly 7,800 students.

"This is our top priority," he said. "We're not going to give up until our family is back together."

(Springfield News-Leader photo: Superintendent C. J. Huff prepares to raise an American flag at Joplin High School, which was destroyed by the tornado.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

A message from our principal: We will meet June 9

The following message was sent from East Middle School Principal Mr. Bud Sexson to faculty and staff today. He asked that the information be shared with students:


This is the time we will meet with all of our students who can make it to the east and west bowling alleys. I have reserved both the alleys on 4th and the one on Rangeline for the purpose of meeting up with the kids and having some type of closure of the school year. I intend to hand out grade cards, yearbooks and the contents of their lockers during this time. It would be wonderful of you could plan to be there. We have been through a lot and we need to get together with these guys and let them laugh and play and smile again. The 7th and 8th grades will meet at the 4th street alley and the sixth at the east one. See you then.

Joplin teachers search for students after tornado


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Joplin Globe provides video footage of East Middle School after tornado

State Department of Education starts tornado relief program for Joplin students

From a State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education news release:

“Missouri kids helping Missouri kids” is the theme of a statewide relief effort launched today by state education officials. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is inviting school personnel and students to quickly raise funds to aid the students in Joplin Public Schools who are severely affected by the tornado disaster.

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro visited the Joplin area on Tuesday to extend support and assistance to officials at the Joplin Public Schools. Despite the gravity of the long-term recovery situation, the immediate safety and well-being of their students are the top priorities.

Local school officials said the greatest need is cash donations to provide assistance to their students.

“I cannot even tell you how much we need that,” said Kim Vann, communications director for Joplin Public Schools. The school district has a total enrollment of nearly 8,000 students, and nearly half of its student body lives in the affected area.

With money raised through the “Kids for Kids—Missouri Kids Helping Missouri Kids” fundraising campaign, Joplin school officials can facilitate the appropriate use of funds for their students’ needs, such as clothing, shoes, blankets, pillows and other personal items.

In January 2010, the Department organized a similar campaign that provided over 40,000 hygiene kits to kids in Haiti following a devastating earthquake.

“Now, it is time to help school kids in Joplin,” said Nicastro of the present humanitarian effort, which is much simpler and more direct. “If every student would donate $1, just imagine the amount of relief our nearly one million students across the state could provide.”

There is a great deal of interest within the educational community in helping Joplin, Nicastro said. She sent a message to school administrators late Tuesday afternoon encouraging their participation in this urgent relief effort. Many schools are still in session for a few more days. Others school officials may contact their patrons encouraging an organized or a direct way for students to lend support.

Monetary donations can be made directly to the school district. A special fund has been set up for tornado relief. Schools or families can make checks payable to Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund and mail to the attention of Kim Vann, Joplin Public Schools, North Middle School, 102 N. Gray Ave., Joplin, Mo. 64801.

For more information, visit dese.mo.gov or Joplin Public Schools’ website at http://joplin.schoolfusion.us/.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Superintendent Huff: Tornado-damaged East will open on time

The auditorium, gymnasium, and commons area were destroyed by Sunday's tornado, but when Aug. 17 rolls around, just 84 days from now, East Middle School will be open for business.

During an ongoing press conference at North Middle School, Superintendent C. J. Huff said, "Our class rooms are sound. Our intentions are to have East ready to go."

Huff said engineers are on the EMS campus today making sure the biulding is structurally sound.

Any East sixth and seventh graders who were displaced will be able to return to East in August.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tornado ends school year for Most Inspirational Teacher

“She’s racist.”

I blinked twice and reread the beginning paragraph of a two-page paper one of my eighth grade students had written about the teacher across the hall from me.

That word did not describe the Andrea Thomas I know, my colleague and friend for the past four years.

Eighth grade reading teachers have a short shelf life at the school where I teach. The first one I taught beside, eight years ago, a tiny young woman with the look and voice of a teenager, became the first teacher at the school to have the embarrassment of having students throw furniture out of her second story window.

I didn’t expect anything different when Andrea took the job. She, too, looked like she would have fit in easily with a high school class. That was where the resemblance ended. Of all of the young teachers I have worked with over the past dozen years, I have never met one who was so prepared to be in a classroom.

She knew what she wanted to accomplish and constructed a plan that would enable her to achieve that goal. I was designated her mentor for that first year, but it would be no understatement to say that I learned far more from her than she did from me.

Over the course of the next four years, I had the privilege of watching her thrive as one of those teachers who goes the extra step for her students, no matter what their race or social status.

This was a woman who put her stock in her God, her family, and her students. By no stretch of the word could she be labeled a racist.

So I kept reading. It did not take long for the student, an African American girl, to get to the point.” She initially considered Andrea to be racist, but it wasn’t the teacher who was the problem.

The problem, she wrote, was not with the teacher. “I was the one who needed to grow up.”

The student changed her attitude and work habits and reading became her favorite class. “Mrs. Thomas wanted to make sure I didn’t fail,” the girl wrote.

“That is why Mrs. Thomas should be named the Most Inspirational Teacher at East Middle School.”

Each year, my eighth graders write a paper declaring their choice for Most Inspirational Teacher. The students vote on the winning paper, not their favorite teacher, but for the essay, the one that does the best job of extolling the virtues of a teacher who has made a difference.

And for this young woman, that teacher was Andrea Thomas.

That award would have been presented a week from this Friday, June 3, on our last day of school. Mrs. Thomas would have received a certificate and a copy of the winning essay.

The auditorium in which that ceremony was to take place is no longer standing. The winning essay, which was on the desk in my classroom, may no longer exist,, and if it does, it is highly unlikely it is in a presentable condition. From what I have been told, my room and Mrs. Thomas’ room were hit the hardest by the tornado that caused extensive damage to the building, which had only been standing for two years.

In the grand scheme of things, an essay and a certificate do not mean much, especially compared to the horrible devastation that Joplin has suffered from the tornado that tore the heart out of the city and has cost at least 116 people their lives and countless others their homes and property.

But it would have been nice for Andrea Thomas to have been named the Most Inspirational Teacher…on her last day at East Middle School.

It would have marked the perfect ending for a frustrating year for Andrea, who reluctantly came to her decision after she realized her long, exhausting hours of work before and after school were taking away from her time for family and church.

Andrea has bigger problems to worry about. She and her husband lost their home to the deadly tornado, but even that never caused her to waver in her faith.

After the tornado hit Sunday night, she did not ask her Facebook friends to pray for her, “Please continue to pray for our city,” she wrote. As for her and her husband, she brushed off their new homeless state. They can stay with family. “Our needs are being met.”

With so many suffering, I can’t help but think I am being selfish, but it would have been great to have taught alongside Andrea Thomas for nine more days and for her students to have another two weeks with this young teacher with the tough exterior and the marshmallow heart.

It would have been nice to have had a chance to say goodbye.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jason Weaver named East Middle School assistant principal

Staff Writer

It has been announced that Mr. Jarrett Cook's replacement as vice-principal at East Middle School is going to be Mr. Jason Weaver.

Mr. Weaver has been a seventh grade social studies teacher at East/South for the last nine years, and he's moving up in the school to become Mr. Sexton's aide, replacing Mr. Cook, who is the new principal at Jefferson Elementary. 
Mr.Cook had been assistant principal at East Middle School for the past three years.

Mr. Weaver was selected following interviews Friday, May 13. The panel that interviewed the assistant principal candidates included Mr. Sexson and EMS teachers Mr. Michael Wallace and Mrs. Lisa Simmons.
Last week, Mr. Sexson perfectly described our new assistant principal  when he told EMS Roundabout the qualities he wanted from the person who was hired.

"He must be caring, a good communicator with the kids and must be able to do a good job of having fun with students and educating them at the same time," Mr. Sexson said.

(Photo: Mr. Jason Weaver and his wife, Stephanie)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Orchestra concert set for tonight

Staff Writer

The EMS Orchestra, under the direction of Ms. Kylee Tripoli,  will mix newer and older music when it performs at 7 p.m. tonight in the school auditorium.

The orchestra will play nine songs- "California Dreaming," "Dance Scenario," "Stairway to Heaven," (featuring an Anna Tillman solo) "Bad Romance," "All Star, "Tangerine Rag," "You'll Be in My Heart," "Ships of Ireland," and "Russian Sailors Dance," with the last song being played by the eighth graders, Anna Tillman, first violin; Jessica Crabb, sccond violin; Alyvia Warstler, viola; and Alex Guenzel, cello.

The orchestra will perform at an assembly today during seventh hour.

Mr. Cook hired as Jefferson Elementary principal; interviews for new assistant principal scheduled for Friday

Staff Writer

Mr. Jarrett Cook, who has been assistant principal at East Middle School for the past three years, is leaving to become principal at Jefferson Elementary.  

Interviews with candidates for the assistant principal job are scheduled to take place Friday, May 13.

Principal Mr. Bud Sexson told EMS Roundabout his expectations for the new assistant principal are pretty standard.

"He must be caring, a good communicator with the kids and must be able to do a good job of having fun with students and educating them at the same time."

Teachers will play a role in choosing Mr. Cook's replacement. Mr. Sexson said eighth grade science teacher Mr. Michael Wallace and sixth grade social studies teacher Mrs. Lisa Simmons will help him and district officials with the job interviews.

Band concert scheduled for Monday

Staff Writer

The East Middle School Band, under the direction of Mr. Nicholas Moore, will present its spring concert  6:30 p.m. Monday, May 16, in the school auditorium.

Band members are listed below:

Justin Armstrong, Julia Ayala, Cameron Bailey, Dakoda Ballard, Tanner Bartholomew, Whitney Bass, Adrianna Bland, Evan Blue, Alonzo Byers, Reed Campbell, Elizabeth Carney, Harry Carpenter, Darin Clark, Trevor Conrad, Zach Consier, Mckinsey Cottle, Shana Cover, Ethan Crider, Ailan Eldred, Sevrin Eldred, Zack Figueroa, Delshaun Garth, Alex Garton, Chris Geier, Anthony Grubb, Tess Harmon, Amy Hembree, Dalton Hill, Tristen Howell, Hannah Huffman, Kayla Johnson, Cannon Jones, Blake Lewis, Maddie Martin, Christian Owens, Ashton Parker, Toku Platt, Devin Puckett, Austin Reynolds, Tyauna Robinson, Valerie Royer, Jennifer Schulze, Alexis Shields, Jakob Simrell, Austen Still, Steven Townsend, Tyler Viles, Erica Ward, Alec Welch, Hannah West, Adam White, Jimmy Willerton, Denton Williams

Friday, May 06, 2011

Searching for Mrs. Frencken

Staff Writers

Eighth grade reporters Whitney Bass and Valerie Royer's spirits were shot down by the discouraging words of two anonoious teachers. Whith the simple question "Do you know where Mr. Frencken is?" our spirits were crushed.

Crushed by the smashing words, "She's in her room and you shouldn't bother her! She obviously doesn't want you to talk to her if the lights are off and the door is locked." (Or she could simply be somewhere else.) Those words sunk into our hearts like a stone in a pond.

The interview will just have to wait. Where could Ms. Frencken be?

(Interview to be completed at a later date)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Quiz Bowl to compete in Battle of the Brains

Staff Writer

    During the five competitions that the Quiz Bowl team participated in, they were against kids their same age, fire against fire.

    But on May 19, we’ll see how they perform against adults!  Yes, finally, Quiz Bowl might actually be outnumbered!

    This competition will be held at East, so anybody can come to this brawl.  This will consist of seven different teams, three of which have already had Quiz Bowl experience.  6th, 7th, and 8th graders will all be separated to different teams, while the other four teams have Alumni Quiz Bowl members (high-schoolers that joined Quiz Bowl in middle school), parents, business partners (those of which help sponsor the school), and teachers from East.

    Several rounds will be run, pairing different groups of two teams, until all but one team is eliminated. 

    The winning team will be given the Nobel East Prize, a trophy meant for a winner.

Monday, May 02, 2011

EMS Student Council announced for 2011-2012

The following students have been elected to the East Middle School Student Council for the 2011-2012 school year:

 Eighth Grade- Jennifer Nguyen, Tyler Viles, Shelby Welton, Amy Koch, Ethan Holz, Megan Hickey, Cara Marshall, Jimmy Willerton

Seventh Grade- Taylor Robinson, Ashlynn Griffberg, Amy Walser, Kendra Sparrow, Lydia Routledge, Annie Le, Bridget Ingham