President Bush to Speak at Greensburg, Kansas Graduation

greensburg kansas after tornado photo.jpg

The scene in Greenburg, Kansas after a tornado leveled the town in 2007.

That scintillating time that is the cusp between high school and the rest of one's life is a thrill. And no moment captures the feeling more succinctly than graduation day itself. Remember sitting on the edge of your chair, awkwardly donning cap and gown, giddy with anticipation? It not just the thought of after-parties that sets nerves a-twitter. It's the idea that one phase of life is ending, and another about to begin.

It's a day the 18-student senior class of Greensburg, Kansas won't soon forget. The graduates from this small town, which was leveled by a tornado a year ago and is now the subject of Planet Green television series, will be getting their send-off from none other than President George Bush, the White House announced yesterday. The president will also deliver two other commencement speeches in the state. Coincidentally, Bush's address will be delivered on May 4, exactly one year to the date of the fierce storm, which resulted in a tragic loss of life, displaced more than 1,500 people, and destroyed almost every home, business, hospital, and school. But like those students with their futures before them, Mayor John Janssen, who inherited the office three weeks after the tornado struck, saw a glimmer of hope and the chance at a bright future.

Greensburg, Kansas has now become the subject of a new 13-part television series that documents the town and its residents' rebirth into a sustainable community. Produced by actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company, Appian Way, along with Craig Piligian of Pilgrim Films & Television, the show will air on Planet Green when it launches in June.

See also:: Introducing Daniel Wallach, TreeHugger's first guest from a generous soul who is helping to rebuild the town. His column aboutthe trials and tribulations of rebuiding Greensburg will appear here occasionally. For more information about the show and the town of Greensburg, check out Planet Green Greensburg.