It’s Back to School for Joplin Students, But Some Will Head to ‘The Mall’

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Eric Thayer / Getty Images

Joplin High students get their class schedules at their new school in a department store

An empty department store has been converted into a brand-new high school for about 900 students in Joplin, Mo.

It is the town’s solution to begin the new school year today after Joplin High was destroyed by a twister in May that killed 160 people.

Jim Dunn, a spokesman for Joplin’s school district, told MSNBC that the 90,000-square-foot shopping space, dubbed “The Mall” by students, will a high-tech environment outfitted with computers and large screens.

(MORE: Torn Asunder: How the Deadliest Twister in Decades Ripped Through Joplin, Mo.)

“The design is what we call a flexible floor plan, with areas that are wide open for large group instruction and smaller settings that can accommodate a classroom and study areas,” he said.

Donations have poured in to help Joplin schools. The United Arab Emirates pledged $1 million to help each Joplin student have a laptop this year, while school supplies and desks and chairs have come from nearby cities.

Nine other schools were also damaged, and officials estimate 7,000 out of the district’s 9,000 students were displaced. But they expect 90% of students to return to school this year. (via MSNBC)

MORE: The Greatest Cleanup on Earth: Circus Elephants Help Out in Joplin

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