Graduations in Oklahoma provide distraction from tragedy


A massive tornado estimated to be at least two miles wide moves through Moore, Oklahoma, in the southern part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, CNN affiliate KFOR reported. Meteorologists warned that residents must be underground to survive a direct hit from this tornado.


by Tiffany Shepherd

OKLAHOMA (CNN)-- While recovery efforts continue to rebuild from Monday's deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, seniors from three area high schools walked across the stage Saturday to receive their diplomas.

Less than a week after a tornado ripped through a suburb of Oklahoma City, some families are experiencing perhaps their first opportunity to focus on something else.

Celebrating the high school graduation ceremonies for the class of 2013.

"I never expected to end senior year like this."

Sharon Liston is a math teacher at Westmoore High School.

She's retiring after this year.

Liston lost her home in Monday's devastating tornado.

She says dozens of students showed up Friday to help clear the wreckage where her house once stood.

"It looked like a wall of students and - with trash cans and trash sacks - and they literally picked up every stick that's within that three acres there. They did an awesome job."

But Liston is not thinking about her own tragedy.

"Today is the kids' day. Today is nothing about tornadoes. Today is for those kids who are graduating and hats off to them."

Graduating senior, Sawyer Tumblson's father also lost his home.

Her mother is a teacher at Briarwood Elementary.

One of two elementary schools leveled by the force of the e-f 5 twister.

But it's not getting in the way of Tumblson's major milestone.

"I'm excited. It's tough to move forward with all - what's been going on. But, I mean, we just have to look forward, and think for the best of everything and be happy that we're graduating and being able to move on."

"Seniors, please turn your tassels."

And with the turning of the tassels, the class of 2013 becomes a symbol of Oklahoma's resolve to move forward.