DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WEHT) Dawson Springs Independent School students celebrate the last day of the school year. It was a year marked by the destruction, and determination to recover from the December 10th tornado.

42 high school seniors will be crossing the stage at the gym at Dawson Springs High School to collect diplomas. The graduation will mark the end to what many considered to be one of the most challenging school years this district’s ever faced.

The seniors took one last walk around the schools they once walked through on their road to graduation.

“It’s been interesting, walking through the halls, seeing everybody, old teachers,” said Nicholas Ramsey, a senior at Dawson Springs H.S.

“You see all these people all year, but it’s so much different, being in those shoes,” added Avery Bunton, a senior at Dawson Springs H.S.

The walk was one of the things marking the end of the year full of challenges, which picked up after the December 10th tornado.

“We have never expected something that big to affect our town, and when it did, it nearly broke us up, but it also brought us all together, supporting us through these tough times,” said Bunton.

They also contended with challenges during the pandemic the past two years.

“This group has had some astronomical challenges, starting with COVID, all the way up to the tornado on December 10th,” said Supt. Leonard Whaley. “It’s just been an extreme challenge. It’s really awesome to see the emotion and excitement for graduation.”

“It just seemed like everything, anytime we took a break, or had a break from school, something happened that sent us back ten steps. But our community is resilient,” said Todd Marshall, principal at Dawson Springs High School.

As this challenging school year ends, students and teachers look to the future as their town reshapes its own future.

“It’s pretty hard. But at the same time, I have my friends, and if I believe in my friends and my family, I can get through anything,” said Alaina Stone, a senior at Dawson Springs High School.

(This story was originally published on May 20, 2022)