published Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Tornadoes making Ringgold stronger

  • photo
    Ringgold High School valedictorian and band member Brianna Gibson stands in front of a trailer at her alma mater that was damaged severely by last month’s tornado outbreak.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Brianna Gibson said the deadly tornado that swept through Ringgold, Ga., on April 27 will, in the end, only make her town stronger.

The valedictorian of the 2011 graduating class of Ringgold High School talked a little about the storm in her address to fellow graduates Friday at UTC’s McKenzie Arena.

Gibson said beforehand she would “talk about how we came together as a community” and how “we have become better because of it.”

The future Berry College student said her family’s home sustained some holes in the roof and subsequent leakage but that her neighbors’ homes suffered more.

The day after the tornado, though, convinced Gibson that Ringgold will come all the way back from the devastation.

“I feel like everybody has come together,” she said. “The next day, everybody was out helping rebuild the city.”

Gibson, who hopes to become a veterinarian, and her fellow graduates spent the last two weeks at Heritage High School after Ringgold High was damaged by the storm.

“It was weird,” she said, “because I had never been in the school before, but it was all the same people.”

In the end, Gibson said, people realize what’s most important: “We’re still Ringgold, and we’re still here.”

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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