SANTA FE, Texas - May 18 will always be a solemn day in the tight-knit community of Santa Fe.
On the 2-year mark of that horrific shooting that stole the lives of 10 people, the grieving amidst the COVID-19 pandemic turned virtual.
"It’s been a tough day. Being virtual and not having the face-to-face interaction with folks has actually made it a little tougher on me personally," said Rusty Norman, Santa ISD Board of Trustees President.
From the students to the faculty and staff like Norman, reflecting on the last two years means acknowledging how different their lives have become since.
At the high school, metal detectors, extra security personnel, and additional wellness counselors cost $500,000 a year to maintain.
"All the security vessels, bulletproof glass, the different door locks, and camera systems are now in place," described Norman.
Most recently, the board approved the guardian plan to arm teachers and staff as an extra layer of protection.
"In our whole wall of security that we’ve built, this guardian program is just another layer and in that sense, it’s our last line of defense," Norman said.
But aside from the transitional safety measures, if anything the last two years have demonstrated, it’s the Santa Fe community’s resiliency and each student’s determination to not be defined by that dark day in history.
"The vast majority of the students and the staff at Santa Fe ISD agree – they’re not going to be defined by the act of terror that was put upon them on May 18th," said Norman.
A committee is now working on brainstorming plans for a permanent memorial site at the Santa Fe High School.