JOPLIN, Mo. - Joplin High Schoolers have a new normal. They've been in transition for two years now, learning out of a temporary space in an old department store at the Northpark Mall.
"This is my school; it's normal," junior Brooks Butler said.
His old school was destroyed in the May 22, 2011 tornado, and the mall location has become home.
"I feel like I'm in a movie. I feel like I'm in a reality TV show for rich kids," junior Maddie Young said. "We have couches, we have plug-ins for our computers. It's just a very open environment."
Many features of the current, unconventional space, like wide hallways and plenty of seating, will be implemented into the permanent building's design.
"We made a difficult situation work in a space that nobody really wanted for a long time in Joplin," Principal Kerry Sachetta said.
Right now, juniors and seniors are at the mall, while freshmen and sophomores study at an old middle school.
After one more school year, students will move into a new $100 million facility that's going up next to the old school site.
Sachetta said the new school will be twice as large as the old building, and will bring all grade levels together again.
"We have to Skype for meetings, we have to drive. We have to make an extra effort to be one school," Young said.
The new school should be open by August 2014.