HOUSTON (FOX 26) - This Saturday marks one year since the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School. This week has flooded students, parents, and faculty with reminders of that horrific day last May.
It was just another day at school for Liberty Wheeler as she walked down the hallway, past the art classroom to first period.
"I thought it was just going to be a normal day at school, then that happened. It just turned into a big nightmare. Something that we all couldn’t get out of," Liberty said.
On the morning of May 18th, Liberty heard the unfamiliar sound of bullets ringing out behind her.
"We ran and we hid. We were on our phones texting our parents. We had this one girl having a panic attack and we were trying to calm her down so no one could hear us," Liberty said.
Her mother, Miranda Wheeler, remembers receiving the ghastly text messages.
"I said it’s probably just a false alarm. Just stay calm. And she says no mom, this is really real. He’s here and he’s already killed people," MIranda said.
In total, 23 people were shot that day. 10 of them did not survive.
But, the aftermath of that deadly shooting extends far beyond the horrific images ingrained in Santa Fe High Schooler's minds.
Metal detectors and security personnel greet them at all entrances of the building every day. Tiny memorials with names of the deceased decorate every corner and door. And as school administrators have learned through time, every proactive action moving forward has a trigger.
"The triggers could be anything. Sometimes walking through the halls could be a trigger for kids. Sometimes the fire alarms, sometimes it’s obvious. For some kids it’s going to be loud noises, something like that. But sometimes it’s just memories," said Rachel Blundell, the principal at Santa Fe High School.
Blundell has worked with the district for 19 years and is an alumni of Santa Fe High School.
The grieving and recovery process is always ongoing. Santa Fe ISD Superintendent Dr. Leigh Wall said they too are exhausted and wish things could've panned out differently.
"We could name a lot of things that we could probably look at differently if we knew then what we know now," Wall said.
May 18th will always be a painful reminder for everyone in Santa Fe. But each day moving forward is a day they've conquered with resiliency.
"For many of them, I've known them from junior high until now. But to see them persevere like they have-- I’m very proud of them," Blundell said.
Santa Fe High School will host a Day of Remembrance and Resilience on Friday, May 17th on campus. Students will not have classes. Instead, they’ll have the option of attending various service projects and dedication events happening all day.
Check-in will begin at 8:45 a.m. Complimentary breakfast tacos will be available. For the first part of the day, students and staff will have the opportunity to participate in student-led activity sessions including on-campus community service projects, art projects, open gym, game sessions, yoga classes, culinary classes, and letter writing to military and veterans.
Community service opportunities will also be available through the Resiliency Center. Students will receive a complimentary pizza lunch and have the option to leave campus.
Guest speaker, Tommy Maher, a first responder and founder of "The Honor Network" will deliver a presentation titled "A Message of Hope and Resilience" starting at 1 PM at the Santa Fe High School auditorium. The panel is open to parents and community members.
The Day of Remembrance and Resilience will conclude with a tree dedication ceremony outside of Santa Fe High School at 2:35 PM. The tree dedication is open to community members.
Comfort dogs will be available at Santa Fe High School from May 13 to May 24. Counselors will ride along on buses to and from Santa Fe High School on May 17th and be available throughout the day.
Santa Fe ISD will also be supporting the City of Santa Fe's Resiliency Day: Remembering Angels, which will be held at the Galveston County Fair Grounds from 2 p/m.m. to 7:45 p.m., culminating in a candlelight vigil.