Nightly News | August 17, 2011
>>> good evening. there hasn't been a whole lot to feel good about it. from bad news overseas to domestic politics that looks more like a street fight . so tonight we begin with a towering achievement that amount of people did not think was possible. it's been three months since we landed in joplin , missouri and could not believe what we saw. entire portions of that american city were just gone. a monstrous twister had made the place unrecognizable. and while we were there, we heard the school superintendent make a pledge, he said we would find a way to begin the school here on time. at the time we chalked it up to emotions and good intentions, but they have done it so. we begin tonight with this towering achievement right when we can use a little bit more of that. nbc's kevin tibbles is in joplin , missouri for us tonight. kevin , good evening.
>> reporter: brian, this is all that's left of the joplin high school , destroyed when that tornado ripped through town. but right from day one, people here vowed it was not going to destroy their spirit. in a badly bruised joplin , missouri , they were determined to open the schools on time. and they did, thanks to team work and creativity.
>> there's not a book out there on how to deal with an f-5 tornado and how to get your school started again.
>> reporter: that tornado stole the lives of 160 people, smashed 8,000 homes and businesses and left eight joplin schools? a shambles. this surveillance video from inside the joplin high school shows the monstrous funnel demolishing it. today the hallways of the new high school echo with the sounds of juniors and seniors. now inside a vacant big box store at a local mall, transformed into a modern place of learning.
>> you're not looking back?
>> no, we can't look back, we know it to the people who lost their lives in this storm to look forward, living our lives in the past wouldn't honor them in the way they need to be honored.
>> reporter: each student received a new lap top, the first presented to a young man who lost both his parents in the tornado. all donated by the united arab emirates some 8,000 miles away .
>> overjoyed, grateful, extremely grateful.
>> reporter: at nearby irving elementary, teacher want the children to feel safe again.
>> they're going to be able to come here and forget about everything else they have gone through because we're going to have fun in this room.
>> if they're upset, i know i'll get upset. i have spent a lot of time praying about it.
>> reporter: behind each school stand concrete shelters should the tornado sirens ever sound again. a reminder of what kids in joplin are still living with.
>> where are you living?
>> at motel six.
>> reporter: back to school ? a city that has suffered so much, where hugs are a vital part of the new curriculum. in most places, kids get pencils and paper when they go back to school , here they also get donated shoes and clothing. many of these kids lost everything and still rely on food banks to eat. but here in joplin , they're making sure that their kids don't get left behind in the school year.
>> kevin tibbles starting us off tonight from joplin , mo. and kevin , thanks for that. something