Students return to class in Oak Grove - KCTV5

Students return to class in Oak Grove

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(Credit: Submitted to KCTV5 by a viewer) (Credit: Submitted to KCTV5 by a viewer)
OAK GROVE, MO (KCTV) -

Many homes in Oak Grove were destroyed, including the home of the local high school principal.

"I couldn't breathe,” said Tanner Pavlica, a senior at the high school. “It was overwhelming, scary"

After days of cleaning, the principal and students were back in school on Thursday.

The principal said it was time to get used to a new normal.

In the small town, nearly everyone knows someone affected by the tornado.

That includes Pavlica. "I would say 85 percent of the school has helped pick up or donated in some way," she said.

Lots of people, including students, crowded neighborhoods that were hit hard and helped pick up the pieces on Wednesday.

On Thursday, they went back to school and everyone showed their support by proudly wearing their orange and black.

“It shows we have a lot of pride for our town,” said Sheyenne Robertson, a freshman.

Brooke Terry, another freshman, said, "One team. One family. One town"

Now that students have had a few days to process the destruction, Principal Adam Salmon said that returning to routine is the right call.

“I told the teachers the most important thing of the day is loving on the kids,” Salmon said.

He knows firsthand what many students in the school are going through because his duplex was destroyed in the tornado.

"There isn't anything there," he explained.

He said seeing how many people reached out to his family was overwhelming.

"From a personal point, I know that it’s tremendous for me and what my family endured,” he said, “so I hope that it goes to those students and families the same way"

It did, with students saying the mood today was down, but walking to a sea of orange pride did help.

"We’re one,” Pavlica said. “We come together in times of need."

The students are on spring break next week.

Many say they will spend their days off helping with the cleanup.

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