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Joplin, Missouri Schools Groundbreaking Comes On Anniversary Of Deadly Tornado

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Shovels and hard hats stand prepared on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Irving Elementary School to be located near the former St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo. The old school, located nine blocks east of the new site, was completely destroyed by the May 22, 2011 tornado. The groundbreaking was one of a number of events taking place on the anniversary of the Joplin tornado. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer) | AP

JOPLIN, Mo. -- A day after President Obama helped Joplin, Mo., bid its high school seniors an emotional farewell, the city is breaking ground on three new schools as part of the rebuilding process.

The May 22, 2011, tornado damaged or destroyed 10 of the city's public schools, including the high school – forcing seniors to spend their final year in a converted big-box store at the city's shopping mall.

As part of Tuesday's anniversary ceremonies, officials plunged shovels into the ground at the site of the new Irving Elementary School in south Joplin. Later Tuesday, they'll do the same at a middle school and the new high school.

On Monday night, President Obama said in his commencement address to departing seniors that they had defied the odds in reaching their big day.

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