After 3 years, moving day arrives for St. Mary's Catholic Elemen - KOAM TV 7

After 3 years, moving day arrives for St. Mary's Catholic Elementary School

After three long years, moving day has arrived for St. Mary's Catholic Elementary School.

More than 100 volunteers showed up this morning to assist in unloading trucks and helping the school get settled in its new location off 32nd street in Joplin.

5th grade teacher Emily Lone and other teachers at St. Mary's are emotional as volunteers help their new classrooms begin to take shape.

"It's such an overwhelming feel of joy and excitement," Lone said.

"I just feel incredibly blessed," said Kim Hosp, 4th grade teacher.

"It's all falling right into place just like we were hoping," said Ann Hamlet, principal.

But the original school's location that was destroyed in the 2011 tornado has not been forgotten.

A statue of Mary survived the storm and was the first item moved into the new school.

"That way she can be right there with us and watch over us," said Jim Kastler, volunteer coordinator.

"As Catholics, we pray through saints and with Mary being the patron of our school, it's really touching," Lone said.

"It's a memory of where we've been, what we've gone through and now where we're going," said Stephen Jones, former principal.

The school includes a large library/media room and storm shelter.

"This building is fantastic," Kastler said.  "What is great is the center of the building is in itself a contained storm shelter, with bathrooms in there and everything that you hope would keep you safe."

And there is simply more space.

Former principal Stephen Jones says the temporary classrooms were a third of the size of the new classrooms.

Teachers say they can't wait for students to see their new permanent cubbies and storage spaces.

"I'm sure that when the kids walk in, they'll be amazed," said Debi Staton, 3rd grade teacher.

"I think their jaws will drop," Kastler said.

"I'm afraid they're going to be super exuberant," Hosp said.  "It's going to be hard to hold them down for a while. They'll be floating on air."

And mother Mary will be there to greet them. 

A reminder, teachers say, of the Catholic faith on which the school is founded.

"I know bad stuff happens, but with faith, God is with us, every step of the way," Lone said.

Teachers say while it has been a long three years in the making, it was worth the wait.

"This is just more than I ever expected," Hosp said.

"It's ours," Lone said. "It's the new home, where we're going to be, a new start."

Joplin Area Catholic Schools begin classes on August 20th.

St. Peter's Middle School will also be moving into its new renovated location on August 2nd.

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