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There were hugs and tears, smiles and laughter. Today, in Moore, Oklahoma, parents and students from two schools destroyed in Monday's tornado reunited with their teachers. The Moore School District reopened just for today on what would have been the final day of classes before summer vacation. NPR's David Schaper was there.
DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Under cloudy skies and through on and off showers, 4-year-old Kamrin Ramirez holds in her little hands two cards, one addressed to Ms. Patterson, the other for Ms. Johnson, her two preschool teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
KAMRIN RAMIREZ: I write thank you so much.
SCHAPER: Plaza Towers was obliterated by Monday's powerful twister. Seven children died beneath the rubble there. Students whose schools were destroyed were able to meet up with their teachers in other Moore schools today. Kamrin's mother, Carly, says she attended Plaza Towers, too, as a girl, and was looking for closure.
CARLY: I want to go hug my old teachers. I know she wants to hug hers. And it's just important as a mom to do this with her so that she has some peace of mind that her teachers are actually OK, she can physically see them.
SCHAPER: Plaza Towers sixth grader Jordan Smith calls the abrupt, chaotic way his school year ended...
JORDAN SMITH: Pretty harsh. It was bad.
SCHAPER: Thirteen-year old Jordan says it's good to see his classmates and teachers one more time away from the devastation before moving on to junior high.
Amber Hill brought her son, 5-year-old son Jaren May, to see his teachers.
AMBER HILL: A lot of I'm so glad you're OK, I'm glad you made it. Showing your battle scars. There's a lot of injuries in there. A lot of the teachers took a lot of the trauma by shielding the kids from the storm.
SCHAPER: Jaren came out carrying a balloon, a goody bag and a brand-new backpack to replace the one he lost in the storm. Other kids slurped on blue or red slushies, raced each other, splashed in puddles, acting like kids again. Amber Hill says it was important for Jaren, who's in the school's autism program, to see his teachers after the chaos of their last moments together.
HILL: He's not fully comprehending what happened. And to see their faces and to hug them and say I love you because he's a very loving child, to be able to do all that is a big comfort to him.
SCHAPER: Hill says it's a new beginning for Jaren and for the other kids, too, and an important part of the healing process for the entire community that lost so much Monday afternoon. David Schaper, NPR News in Moore, Oklahoma.
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