OKLAHOMA CITY - Seven tornadoes have swept through their town since they were born, but as new graduates donned caps and gowns to say goodbye to their high schools Saturday, they vowed they wouldn't say goodbye to Moore.
"I wouldn't want to be in any other place. It's our roots. Tornadoes are a part of life here," said college-bound Brooke Potter, 18.
Saturday's graduations for Westmoore, Southmoore, and Moore High Schools were another step toward normalcy for this ravaged Oklahoma City suburb. Monday's twister killed 24, including seven children at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
"I want to end up back here," Madison Dobbs, 18, said. "I've been here my whole life and can't picture myself anywhere else."
Few other places have the number and severity of tornadoes that Oklahoma has, and no other place has had a tornado like Moore. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman says the Oklahoma City area has been struck by more tornadoes than any other U.S. city, citing records that date to 1893.
When the current graduating class was in second grade, an EF4 tornado with winds approaching 200 m.p.h. hit Moore. Three months before they started pre-kindergarten, a twister with the highest winds on record - 302 m.p.h. - sliced through their town.
Some students lost everything in Monday's storm. Southmoore senior Callie Dosher, 18, said she sifted through the debris of her family's destroyed home over the last few days, looking to recover precious possessions.
But she, too, wants to stay. "These people, I've grown up with them. I have all my friends here," she said.
Miranda Mann, an 18-year-old Southmoore graduate whose family also lost their home, couldn't recognize her own neighborhood because of the damage. Yet the family has vowed to rebuild on the same ground.
"We loved the house we were in," she said. "But we get to make new memories in the new house."