|Greensburg, Kan. (Best Places map)|
After the tornado, the town no longer had "a grade school, a high school, a City Hall, a hospital, a water tower, a fire station, a business district or a main street," Wenzl notes, referring to an Eagle story from 2007. "We also could have said there were no longer dentists, doctor’s offices, eye doctors, car repair shops and all other things a small town needs to keep from dying. Greensburg could easily have become only a memory and not a town."
Darin Headrick, who was superintendent of schools at the time of the tornado, told Wenzl, “The tornado opened all our eyes. People were living scattered everywhere; no one was living in Greensburg anymore. We’d all lost everything, but what we all found that we missed the most were friendships, neighborhoods, the daily interactions. We realized we’d lost relationships." Headrick said one of the keys to rebuilding was to ensure that the town had schools rebuilt inside city limits by the time the fall semester began on Aug. 15.
|Marvin Lawson in what used to be his home |
in Greensburg, Kan. in May 2007 (Eagle photo)
Headrick "forged new relationships with people from Mullinville and Haviland. People from those towns had raced to help Greensburg, he said. Now he tried to help them. That laid the groundwork for when school consolidation happened after the tornado. But he knew Greensburg needed to give up something to get cooperation. So that meant telling Greensburg residents they had to give up some of their decades-long identity."
That meant giving up school colors and mascots to make sure students from other schools weren't being forced to accept the Greensburg High School identity, Wenzl writes. So Greensburg High School became Kiowa County High School, the Greensburg Rangers were now the Kiowa County Mavericks and the colors went from red and blue to burnt-orange and white.