Seniors from Westmoore High School marked their graduation just five days after a massive tornado destroyed miles of their home town.
The usually vibrant ceremony was clouded by Monday's tornado but students said it was a time to get together, celebrate their hard work and escape the reality of the devastating tornado for a while.
Christine Nguyen, this year's Salutatorian for Westmoore, said everyone in her class was connected to the destruction. Some lost their homes, others knew a person killed in the tornado.
Nguyen and her friends have been busy since Monday. They set up a collection event and within two days loaded up more than 10 trucks with relief supplies and raised nearly $1,000. Nguyen said her classmates decided to put victims first, including a teacher and the classmates who lost everything.
They spent Friday afternoon cleaning up the 3-acre property of their math teacher, Sharon Liston.
Liston's house was completely destroyed in the tornado.
"There are a couple walls left," she explained. "The insurance adjuster said it needed to be bulldozed."
But Liston said being at the Westmoore graduation was important to her. She is retiring after 40 years in education and knows how important graduation day is for high schoolers.
"Today it's all about the kids," she said.
She said she was proud of her students for showing such maturity under such difficulty and acknowledged she could not have made it through the week without the love and support she has been shown.