Final class in tornado graduates from Enterprise High School

Leanne Rainer walks to her seat during Enterprise High School's graduation ceremony.
Leanne Rainer walks to her seat during Enterprise High School's graduation ceremony.

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

ENTERPRISE, AL (WSFA) - It's finally here.  But just a little while ago, Leanne Rainer couldn't believe she was graduating.

"It just seemed like an eternity especially after March 1st happened."

Her dad, the principal of Enterprise High School, can't believe it either.

"We've shared the pain and the grief," says Rick Rainer.

Two years and two months have passed since March 1st, 2007 when Leanne was a sophomore living what she recalls as a nightmare--the day a tornado struck her high school leaving eight students dead.  And now, she's living a dream that's finally reality.

"[I] never thought it would actually happen, but the day has come--the day you look forward to your entire high school career."

It's been a road marked with tough times--going to school in trailers at a community college and coping with the loss of close classmates.

But now, the last class to experience the tornado is walking towards the stage with the memory of those lost right beside them.

Two students killed in the tornado would have graduated this year. Even though they're not here physically, students know they're graduating in spirit.

Katie Strunk and Michelle Wilson have special seats among their classmates with graduation caps and gowns draped on chairs and diplomas placed neatly on top.  It's a tribute as the community vows to never forget.

It's one reason Governor Bob Riley accepted the invitation to Enterprise.

"If you look at how they've handled this it truly is amazing, and it was just a great honor to get the opportunity to come and speak to them."

For Leanne and the rest of the seniors, they're flying high proud to be the class of 2009.

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