One year to the day that an F2 tornado ripped through Goodman and destroyed the Goodman Elementary School, Neosho School District administration and staff along with Goodman School students, parents, families, and friends gathered to break ground on the new Goodman Elementary School. The groundbreaking took place on Wednesday, April 4.

One year to the day that an F2 tornado ripped through Goodman and destroyed the Goodman Elementary School, Neosho School District administration and staff along with Goodman School students, parents, families, and friends gathered to break ground on the new Goodman Elementary School. The groundbreaking took place on Wednesday, April 4.

The Goodman Fire Department served as escort for six school buses that brought the Goodman student body from their temporary location in Neosho back to Goodman. Students and their teachers emerged from the buses with bright smiles and warm enthusiasm despite unseasonably cold temperatures.

"Isn't this a great turnout?," one Goodman resident remarked. "Isn't this a great day for Goodman?"

Neosho Superintendent of Schools Dan Decker greeted the children and the crowd.

"What an amazing day it is," he said. "I have the privilege of welcoming everyone to this great event, the groundbreaking which is the start of the construction of the new Goodman Elementary school."

The Goodman students who were seated in front of the podium and artwork depicting the planned new school sang under the direction of elementary music teacher Alicia Dickinson. Dickinson led the students in singing "Try Everything," a song popularized by Shakira. "I won't give in until the end, I won't give in," students sang.

"I know it's cold," Decker stated. "But, I'd like to take a few minutes on this special day to talk about what happened last year."

He recounted the events and weather that culminated in a F2 tornado that touched down on the west edge of Goodman and moved northeast through town, destroying the elementary school.

"I want to give special recognition to our staff, those who worked hard to get from that day to this day," he said.
Decker addressed the students, asking, "Did you know that the number one concern Mrs. Hamilton (Goodman Elementary principal) and the staff had was the children's safety and how and where to have school? Mrs. Hamilton said, that night, I have to make sure all my kids are taken care of and we have to stay together. Number one on the mind of all the teachers and principals was taking care of you. The number one concern was to make sure all of you are taken care of and that we build a beautiful facility, a new school that you can call home."

Decker, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Becky Sears and Hamilton, and several Board of Education members donned hard hats and picked up a shovel to break ground for the new school. Students tossed multi-colored confetti in the air in celebration of the groundbreaking for their new school.

Decker offered special thanks to Branco Enterprises of Neosho, who will construct the building, Sapp Design Architects, Springfield, who will design the school, Goodman Fire Department for providing escort for the bus caravan of students along with Neosho School District Operations and Transportation for their roles in making the event possible.

The new Goodman Elementary School has a Fall 2019 projection date for completion. Pending the final plans and board of education approval, the finished school will be approximately 45,000 square feet. Goodman has more than 300 students in grades Pre-K through 4th and 40 employees, including building custodian Lyndell "Lucky" Ulmer, who survived the tornado in the school's planned shelter location. He was the sole individual in the building at the time the tornado struck.

The new building will be on the same site as the original school but will be farther away from the adjacent railroad tracks.

"Thanks for sharing this time with us as we get busy constructing the new school," Decker said in closing.

Construction will begin in the near future. If everything goes according to plan, weather permitting, the new Goodman Elementary will be open for students on the first day of school in the 2019-2020 school year. Until then, students will remain housed in the former 7th grade wing of the Neosho Middle School.