Texas’s Uvalde County — Uvalde felt the sun’s warmth on a spring morning as the sun rose over the city.
Huge trees blossomed all over the city. There was an unnerving calm among the 21 crosses commemorating the de@ths lost on May 24, 2022, outside Robb Elementary School.
Even though the change of seasons is normally accompanied by feelings of regeneration, in a city with a population of less than 25,000, sadness persists.
Dean of Academics at Uvalde High School, Natalie Arias, saw a change in her hometown after the bloodiest sh00ting in Texas history.
“It feels very strange still,” Arias says. “I think that’s what’s hard.”
Robb Elementary was where Arias first experienced the joy of learning, and she had no idea that one day it would be the scene of a m*rder.
“I think that there’s still a lot of pain,” Arias stated.
Edgar Sandoval shared a tweet about the same incident on his twitter handle.
My colleague @jdavidgoodman & I went to #Uvalde last week to try & figure out how the city was coping. We found fierce unity among families of the victims. But also divisions that run deep in the majority Latino, socially conservative community. https://t.co/7m3SRQYo0f
— Edgar Sandoval 🗽 (@edjsandoval) May 22, 2023
When a sh00ter entered his school, nearly all of the victims were people Arias knew. Some of the victim’s parents were also teachers, and she became friends with them through the public schools she attended.
She finds connections wherever she goes. Reminders pop up in every chat.
“They were good people,” Arias says. “They were gonna be great people.”
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A year after the shooting, Arias told WFAA that there are still profound divisions in Uvalde. Some people have moved on from May 24 already, but others are still hurting and pushing for change.
“I love Uvalde,” Arias stated. “It’s comfort. This is home, and the last 11 months, I’ve seen things in my community that I’m not proud of. This is a part of us now. This tragedy is a part of our identity.”
The small town’s mourning intensified over the course of a year. The memorial flowers that had been set along Main Street and in front of the elementary school had withered and were removed.
The public library, city offices, and families all received dozens of thoughtful presents. Uvalde CISD has a warehouse where they keep other things.
El Progreso Memorial Library will soon be archiving a vast collection of gifts, letters, and newspaper clippings. People’s minds and boxes are filled with recollections of that terrible day.
“I don’t wanna forget, dismiss or move on from anything that happened,” Arias also says. “But I also don’t want us to live in tragedy forever. I want our community to be able to heal together.”
Arias has expressed optimism that the construction of the new school she and the community helped design will assist start the healing process.
Arias has represented the victims’ relatives, instructors, and other community members on the community advisory group for a number of months.
When the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation announced it will construct a new school in Uvalde at no expense to the district, it solicited feedback from the local community. The Charles Foundation has successfully raised over $70 million thus far.
Tim Miller, executive director of the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation, told WFAA that the organization took its time in planning the new school because it valued community input highly.
Huckabee architects from Fort Worth volunteered to create the plans for the new school, which will be located less than two miles from where Robb Elementary is now.
“We’ve been very thoughtful with the community,” Huckabee stated. “They’re the most wonderful people you would ever wanna meet. The entire project is the vision of the community.”
The organization recently unveiled plans for the new school, along with illustrations. Huckabee claims that it will have a sleek, contemporary design, along with cutting-edge safety measures and bulletproof glass.
There will be a butterfly art show in the lobby to symbolize the victims, and the entire building will be decorated in bright hues.
A massive tree structure, emblematic of the tree city, will be constructed in the midst of the school library. The two largest branches represent the two educators who lost their lives, while the smaller branches represent the 19 students who perished.
Arias stated that the victims would be remembered at the new school by having their names etched on individual branches.
When the new school opens in the fall of 2024, Arias’ twin daughters will be among the first students there.
Arias, fighting back tears, stated that despite the tragedy, she still loves living in her neighborhood.
“Uvalde’s great place,” Arias also stated. “I still believe it’s a great place to raise your kids. I feel strongly about that. I love it here, I love the people here. I’ve always said what makes Uvalde great are the people.”
For this reason, a year after the tragedy, as the continuous fight toward healing continues, Arias and those striving to reconstruct what was lost realize that commemorating the dead is essential to moving ahead.
Tyler is a passionate journalist with a keen eye for detail and a deep love for uncovering the truth. With years of experience covering a wide range of topics, Tyler has a proven track record of delivering insightful and thought-provoking articles to readers everywhere. Whether it’s breaking news, in-depth investigations, or behind-the-scenes looks at the world of politics and entertainment, Tyler has a unique ability to bring a story to life and make it relevant to audiences everywhere. When he’s not writing, you can find Tyler exploring new cultures, trying new foods, and soaking up the beauty of the world around him.