A shared experience formed a bond Friday, drawing elementary school students from Joplin to Moore.
Students and staff from Stapleton Elementary School made an early-morning journey to the current Plaza Towers location in Moore. The Joplin students also visited the Plaza Towers construction site. It was a field trip that taught leadership, generosity and friendship.
"It was really cool that [the Plaza Towers students] were all out there ready for us, waiting for us," Joplin student Micha Fletcher said.
Stapleton Principal Karen Secrist said it was emotional getting off the school bus in Moore. She called the moment an instant connection between the two schools. Plaza Towers students agreed.
"It's kind of cool to have somebody to talk to who knows what we've been through instead of talking to somebody who doesn't know what we've been through," Plaza Towers student Monica Boyd told News 9.
There was plenty of time for talking during activities before a check presentation for Plaza Towers. The check represented a lot of pocket change –- more than $3,100.
"K-12 [students] brought pennies, and they all added up pretty quickly," Secrist said.
Moore's superintendent said the people of Joplin Schools aren't friends, they're family -- brothers and sisters who were in Moore the day after the tornado and returned nearly one year later with a simple message:
"[To] let them know that it's going to be all right and … just pay it forward," Fletcher said.
Before leaving Moore, the Joplin students donated roughly 600 books for the students of Plaza Towers.
It's been nearly three years since the Joplin tornado that killed 158 people.