“Life can be wonderful,” Moore students displaced by March tornado get surprise at school

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MOORE, Okla. - Hundreds of students from Southgate-Rippetoe Elementary in Moore got quite the surprise Friday.

After being displaced by the most recent tornado in March, they each took home backpacks filled with school supplies.

The kids’ moods started to shift, representing one of the school’s mottos as the “Happiest School on Earth.”

"You have nice folders, you have nice notebooks,” said Neal Johnson, the school's principal.

The students clutched onto their new gear, eager to learn.

"I'm glad they had us come here because now we get to finish our lives, do our work, spend time with our teachers," said Kaitlyn Jones, a student at the school.

For these kiddos, the March tornado was scary in every way.

"I cried when the tornado was coming," said Shakur Thomas.

"It just affected me because we didn't have our school but then I came here and my life started back," said Jones.

Students from Southgate-Rippetoe Elementary in Moore are going to school temporarily at Emmaus Baptist Church.

They accepted these generous donations from the Kids In Need Foundation, with help from JoAnn Fabric & Craft Stores and Voyager Sopris Learning.

"School supplies are a real simple item, but they're basic. We can't expect our kids to learn and succeed in the classroom without the basic tools," said Dave Smith, executive director of the Kinds In Need Foundation.

For Johnson, this much-needed help is a new beginning for his students.

"Our kids are safe, that's the number one thing. Our kids are safe, our teachers care and their teachers are here for them and we have barely skipped a beat," said Johnson.

"My family is still here and I still have my friends and my family and school," said Thomas.

"They've taught us things we've never learned before. That life can be wonderful when people help you," said Jones.

Every student can also look forward to a new computer program next year called “Ticket to Read.”

It was donated by Voyager Sopris Learning. Each child will get their own user name and password to play fun reading and letter games all year-long.

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