SANTA FE, TX - Tuesday marks three years since the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School. To honor the 10 lives lost that day, the school formally unveil a new memorial on the day of remembrance.
Seated on the edge of Santa Fe High School now stands "The Unfillable Chair" -- an 8-foot remembrance piece to commemorate the 10 lives taken on May 18, 2018.
"The chair is never going to be filled again. The students that passed and the teachers that passed, they’re never going to be able to sit next to us again," said graduating senior Chailyn Gillespie, who helped design the memorial's concept.
Three years ago, Chailyn Gillespie and Morgan Wilson were both freshmen when a lone gunman stormed the campus and shot 23 people. Of the 10 people who didn’t survive, five would’ve graduated next week.
It’s the last class to witness the deadly massacre.
"Shana Fisher, Christian Riley Garcia, Kyle McLeod, Angelique Ramirez, and Kimberly Vaughan would've graduated with us this year," Gillespie said.
"At graduation, they will be acknowledged before the regular ceremony begins so all of them will have their own graduation of their own, and their families, if they want to, of course, will be there for that," Wilson said.
For Reagan Gaona, the last three years have been a tough grieving process as she mourned her late boyfriend, Chris Stone, carrying a piece of him everywhere she goes.
"I carry Chris on my neck in this necklace. And I just hold it. I kind of just close my eyes and visualize I’m talking to him, just talking to him, and then it calms me down. I wear it wherever I go. I never take it off. I haven’t taken it off for almost two years now," Gaona said.
"I would say I'm numb at this point. At first, it was constant sadness but now, it’s just a numb feeling now. You cry so much you can’t cry anymore you know," Gaona continued.
"I also have a tattoo that symbolizes him. It’s permanent. He will never leave me ever and that's what I want this to symbolize," Gaona explained.
With every passing day, the pain gets a little easier to handle.
But for the graduating seniors, they’re ready to leave their traumatic high school years behind them.
"I’m ready for new and better experiences. It’s been a rough four years and we haven’t really had any good come out of it because of Covid and then hurricanes and then freezes and the shooting. So we’ve lost a lot of our high school career so I think everybody is ready to move on to bigger and better things," Gillespie said.
Classes will be optional on Tuesday so students can instead focus on reflecting and healing.
The dedication for The Unfillable Chair begins at 3:30 PM on campus.
The Santa Fe 10 Memorial Foundation is still fundraising to complete the memorial. To help, click here. https://www.sftenmemorial.org/donate