Student volunteers put the last shovelfuls of dirt to complete the planting of the first of many trees in honor of those killed and wounded during the shooting at Santa Fe High School last year. (Photo by Joshua Truksa) 

Santa Fe ISD held a ceremony on the campus of Santa Fe High School Friday afternoon to place the first of 23 trees that will be planted in honor of the 10 killed and 13 injured victims of the May 18, 2018, shooting at Santa Fe High School. 

Friday’s message was one of hope. District leaders said students and the community have shown steadfast resolve to recover from the horrific events of last year. Santa Fe High School Principal Rachel Blundell said students were “driven to recover from this tragedy” and recounted how they began the road to recovery just days after the tragedy one year ago. 

“First, they showed us perseverance, when our baseball one day after the tragedy. Then, they showed us how to unite together, when the students sang the alma mater without any prompting or music,” Blundell said. team stepped out on the field 

Blundell said despite the adversity, Santa Fe High School students have increased their number of outstanding academic and athletic achievements. 

“They earned these accomplishments all while facing a healing and recovery process that most adults in our country have never faced in their lifetime,” Blundell said. 

Student Council Vice President Carlos Gill also spoke about how students have persevered through the first year of the recovery process and made efforts to return normalcy to Santa Fe High School. 

Gill explained coping with an overwhelming sense of survivor guilt over the summer following the shooting. 

“Last summer, I often thought, why was I given the opportunity to live my life while others have been stripped of the opportunity to live theirs. The pain of guilt was overwhelming. Soon this overwhelming feeling turned into the need to serve. I was blessed with the privilege of having my life, and if our loved ones could talk to us, they would tell us to live our lives to the fullest for them. I saw this not only in me, but also in my school,” Gill said. 

Gill said that members of the student council and the teachers who supported them were indispensable in being able to “spark the fire of school spirit that had been extinguished by May 18.” 

The student council was successful from the beginning of the school year in devising ways to revitalize and create interest in social activities, with participation in sporting events and things like the homecoming carnival. 

The planting of the tree on Friday afternoon was just the first of not only several more trees, but an entire system of walking trails and seating to be added by Career & Technical Education students. A com-memorative plaque will also be added. 

“This area of remembrance will be a place where students can find peace, remember their friends and family and heal,” Blundell said. 

Sophomore Student Council Representative Jayviance Gillard, who was in the art room where the shooting occurred, said the trees will symbolize the resiliency of the student body, alumni and community, as the trees form new rings each year and withstand the test of weather. 

“We will continue to persevere and fight even when we fall, and we will continues to persevere and fight for all of those who are no longer with us,” Gillard said.“Every time we walk into school or drive from here to home, these trees will be seen by all. They will provide us with shade from our hard days and give us comfort because there’s no need to be afraid. These trees are a symbol of strength as well as peace.” 

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