East Middle School eighth grader Jennifer Nguyen spoke to more than 100 area business and community leaders and parents during a celebration breakfast Thursday morning at the Holiday Inn.
In addition to her presentation, those attending heard updates on rebuilding efforts from Dr. C. J. Huff, superintendent; and Dr. Angie Besendorfer, assistant superintendent.
The breakfast concluded with words of support for the upcoming bond issue from Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian and Mayor Mike Woolsten.
The text of Jennifer Nguyen's speech is provided below:
Hello, my name is Jennifer Nguyen. I am an eighth grader from East Middle School, and today, I came to talk to you about why I think the bond request should be passed.
I remember coming to East Middle School for the first time when I was in the sixth grade. I remember seeing the huge hallways and thinking to myself that I would never make it out alive. After a few weeks, though, the building became home, and I could easily navigate my way around. I was one of the lucky people that got to go to the new school. East soon became home to many others, as well: the students and staff. When the tornado came by last year, no one expected to find East as it is now. Nobody expected to find a pile of rubble in place of our beloved school.
Luckily, we found a building to use as a temporary school. As many of you know, we are now located on East 26th Street. Everybody is very thankful to have a place to go to continue learning, but those that went to the old East, miss it dearly. The warehouse provides a place to learn, but it just isn’t the same as the old East.
The building we are in now is much smaller and crowded, and getting from class to class can be hard some days when you are trying to beat the crowd. At the old East, we had a beautiful auditorium where we held all our assemblies. Now, we are crowded into the cafeteria for any assemblies or pep rallies, and we have no space in the current building for an auditorium. Instead of a gym, we have a blown up, tent-like structure beside the warehouse. We are restricted from having any home games at our school, whether the sport is volleyball or basketball. Replacing our outside basketball court and field is a parking lot. Now, whenever students go outside for some fresh air after lunch, they are kept inside the boundaries of the parking lot, and even that is not much space. After school, students waiting in the parent pick-up line have to wait quite a while because of the slow progression in the small area of the back parking lot.
These are just a few of the many disadvantages that occur at the warehouse. The largest disadvantage of all, though, is the lack of spirit in our school. In the minds of many, the building we are in now is not truly East; it is just a temporary building, a warehouse. And even though East is now at a new location, to me and many others, the old East will always be home. The old East will be remembered as our true middle school, not the warehouse. Hopefully, East will soon be returning home. Thank you.