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Members of the Santa Fe community finish a mosaic designed by local artist Doug Hiser, who also painted the mural on the side of City Hall along with his students from Houston Gateway Academy. (Photo by Joshua Truksa) 

The community of Santa Fe marked the first anniversary of the tragedy at Santa Fe High School with a ceremony honoring the victims Saturday at the Galveston County Fairgrounds. 

The day began at 2 p.m. with therapeutic arts and crafts, counseling resources and therapy dogs and horses brought and provided by multiple organizations from throughout Galveston County, including the Red Cross, Hearts United, the Gulf Coast Center, the Galveston County Critical Incident Stress Management Team, Coastal Health & Wellness and Cheerful Hearts. The event was organized by the Santa Fe Strong Resiliency Center. 

“This event is supposed to just ‘Hope and Healing’ has been kind of our slogan to use — ‘Hope and Healing’ and recovery for this community, and this is a way to do it in a positive way,” Wendy Norris of the Santa Fe Strong Resiliency Center said. bring people together, like as a 

The support coming from surrounding communities was evident. Most organizations participating in the event were from outside of the city and one side of the room hung a banner from Friendswood expressing that it will never forget Santa Fe. 

A motif that appeared prevalent on Saturday was butterflies. 

Real butterflies and caterpillars were displayed by Eleanor Brown and Anita Laffey at one table, a large butterfly mosaic was being finished in the center of the room by community members and the bell made famous by a demonstration in front of the Santa Fe ISD Board of Trustees in which family members of those killed read their loved one’s name and rang the bell was decorated by local artist Dawn King with ribbons and butterflies. There was no collaboration in this theme, nor did any of the projects featuring butterflies make intentional reference to a video posted by victim Kimberly Vaughn made from inside the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science less than a year before the shooting, in which she pretended to be a documentary narrator by amusingly stating the obvious in a silly manner. 

Local artist Doug Hiser, who drew the design for the butterfly mosaic, said butterflies are a symbol of hope. 

“The butterfly’s a way to represent hope and metamorphosis,” Hiser said. “From the tragic horribleness, everybody’s trying to recover. It’s like the caterpillar growing wings and becoming beautiful, so it’s like trying to recover and make that metamorphosis into healing. It’s all about the healing.” 

Large turnout marked the main event at 7 p.m., at which Mayor Jason Tabor announced a proclamation declaring May 18, 2019, as “Resiliency Day – Remembering Angels” and said he would be gifting the 10 pins he has worn for a year following the shooting to the families of the fallen victims. 

Tabor said Santa Fe community members’ support for each other has been astounding over the course of what he claimed was most likely the longest year of many townspeople’s lives and that the people of Santa Fe will continue to be there for one another. 

“There haven’t just been a few family members mourning a loved one. It’s an entire community in mourning, an entire community healing together. Remember, we are not in a race; it’s going to be a long marathon,” Tabor said. 

The evening ended with a ceremonial reading of each person lost to the community in the tragedy one year earlier, followed by a bell toll and a candle lit on stage for each one. Participants then lit candles in the crowd, passing the flame between each other. 

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