Caruthersville Students Still in Mobile Classrooms Two Years Later

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KAIT) -- It's been two years since an F3 tornado tore across Region 8 destroying homes, lives...and for some, hopes for the future. The rebuilding process has been slow, but steady, in Southeast Missouri where 200 mile per hour winds destroyed businesses and residences.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when a deadly tornado ripped through Southeast Missouri, killing one person in Braggadocio before dropping out of the sky in Caruthersville, destroying the school and just about everything around it.

Although a sign out front reads new school ready in 2009, it may be a while before Caruthersville students are out of mobile classrooms.

"I want to be optimistic, I want my teachers to be optimistic and I want my students to be optimistic about the future. I really do think that within a certain time period we will be in a new high school," said high school Principal Mike Wallace.

The school has seen lots of changes, having to rewrite many policies and procedures because of their new accommodations.  And for some students the tornado had a big impact on their future.

"It messed us up a lot sports wise. a year before or two we were the number one in the state champions in football," said senior Joshua Swanson, "Everybody was getting scholarships and then my junior and senior year I was hoping to get a scholarship and it just didn't happen. We didn't have a weight lifting facility or anything."

On a brighter note, graduation rates are up and dropout rate have fallen while students have seen an increase in their map scores.

"The teachers worked really hard trying to get the kids educated, knowing that we are in trailers but doing the best that they can to educate us the same they did in the high school," said senior Holly Lacey.

"While some of that can never be brought back, I do want to say that I think we can rebound and I think we can start new traditions and we can develop a positive rapport we had with the community when we were across the street before the tornado," said Wallace.

The tigers played six home games here last season and while it may be just a small step, Principal Wallace believes it's a start in bringing this community and school back to what it once was.

A bond issue to fund rebuilding for the school was turned down by voters last April.  Presently, the school is at odds with the insurance company over the proposed settlement.

As far as personnel, Caruthersville schools will see some new faces next year.  The school is hiring for several openings and J.J. Bullington will be taking over as the new superintendent.