“As we plant this tree, I want us to embrace this, because it will mean something to us until the day we die,” Cordova Principal Kathy Vintson said. “This is our ‘Tree of Hope,’ and it will be our symbol of hope.”
Before the tree planting, faculty and students participated in a remembrance ceremony.
Beverly Moseley, one of the school’s bus drivers, survived the storm but her stepson, 24-year-old Jackson Vanhorn, was killed. Moseley told students to not take their families for granted.
“We aren’t promised tomorrow. Go home and hug your parents’ neck and tell them you love them,” she said. “It might be the last change you get. If one of you will do that, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do today.”
After Moseley spoke, Barry Wilson, Cordova High’s assistant principal, presented her with a plant which Vintson dubbed as Moseley’s “plant of hope.”
Alisa Brown, a teacher at Cordova, was in a storm shelter when the storm went directly over her and her family.
“I hate the tornado. It took so many things from all of us, but there are so many things it can never take from us,” Brown said. “It cannot take the love we feel for each other. It can’t take our memories.”
Vintson said she still can’t believe the outpouring of help that came into Cordova in the days after the storm. For a while, the Cordova High’s gym was the main distribution center to citizens in need.
“It was a miracle what happened here,” he said. “I still can’t explain what happened here, because I’ve never seen anything like it. It was something special. I know there is nothing we can’t do.”
Current and former Cordova students also spoke during Friday morning’s assembly, while Stephen Spivy, the school’s counselor, and community member Gina Perrin sung during the event. Ryan Rosser, pastor of Long Memorial United Methodist Church, opened the event with prayer.