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."