GRANBURY -- Thirteen years of schooling ended 16 days after the storm. That's when nature unleashed its fury, shattering homes and taking lives, yet sparing some.
"You know, I was almost not here," said Dillon Whitehead.
His home is just a concrete slab now. He and his mother and brother were inside and all injured.
"The house lifted up and I went up with it, about 20 to 30 feet in the air," he recalled. "Every time I tried to stop myself and run away from it, it dragged me."
He had a boot on his fractured foot, beneath his purple gown. He is a young man with scars; none deeper than those seared in his mind.
"I didn't know where my mom or brother were," he said, "and when I found them, they were bloody, like me."
He survived, and so did Iris Martinez. She crossed the stage Friday night in a wheelchair. Nora Mojica crossed with her arm in a sling.
As their names were called, the audience roared.
The school district said it believes four graduating seniors lost everything. But the class of 2013 gained one thing: a new respect for life.
"I don't think we'll remember the tragedy," said National Honor Society President and graduating senior Blair Cowden. "We will remember a time we came together. We showed the U.S. that Granbury was affected, but we are still strong."
Senior Aubrey Reinhardt said the same thing.
"Granbury is a wonderful community," she said. "I want people to know the storm doesn't define us, it's what we do after the storm."
Whitehead said he was proud if his classmates and his community.
"Everyone has come together," he said.
Dillon is going to Texas A&M is the fall. He wants to study meteorology.