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President Address Joplin High School

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White House
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President Obama speaks to Joplin High School Graduates

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the graduating seniors of a Missouri town devastated by deadly tornadoes are a "source of inspiration" to him and the nation.

Obama says the story of Joplin, Mo., is one of a community coming together in response to tragedy.

The president was speaking on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the tornado that killed 161 people. Joplin High School was destroyed and the students spent their senior year taking classes in a converted department store.

Obama says the graduating class can use it as a lesson that, in his words, "we can define our own lives not by what happens to us, but by how we respond."

Obama says that in the town of 50,000 people, nearly 50,000 more came to help after the tornado.