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9 Months After School Explosion, Minnehaha Academy Seniors Graduate

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It was an emotional evening for a group of Twin Cities seniors as they said goodbye to friends, teachers and what's left of Minnehaha Academy.

Nine months ago an explosion flattened part of the school, killing a janitor and secretary.

Students and staff had less than 40 days to pick up the pieces after their world was turned upside down.

On Sunday, 76 members of the class of 2018 were ready to graduate.

"Our community has locked arms and hearts to guide these incredibly gifted and aspiring young men and women to this significant milestone," said Dr. Donna Harris, the president of Minnehaha Academy.

As part of the ceremony, she called for a moment of silence.

"While your reflections may drift to our loss, I encourage you to reflect on the many, many blessing on this year as well," Harris said.

A gas explosion in August ripped through the Upper Campus of Minnehaha Academy, killing janitor John Carlson and receptionist Ruth Berg.

Upper School Principal Jason Wenschlag says for seniors to push through this year says a lot about their character, integrity and fortitude.

Graduating Senior Laura Shea says her class relied on their faith and sense of community to get to this point.

"The first couple of nights after the explosion, we went up to the school for like several hours and it was just really helpful...there would always be friends there to kind of talk with and process what had happened," she said.

Minnehaha Academy's president says that the class of 2018 will be source of inspiration for generations to come.

"Your steadfastness, courage and spirit are admirable in a difficult year," she said. "You have demonstrated how to turn pain and disappointment into hopefulness, resilience and joy."

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