The Santa Fe Ten Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to remember the students and teachers lost in a mass shooting four years ago, is planning several initiatives to help students understand the magnitude of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
Last September, Santa Fe High School was chosen as a seed of hope recipient by the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum to receive a seedling of a Callery pear tree, the last natural element rescued from Ground Zero 21 years ago. This year, they plan to share the story of the Survivor Tree with the next generation of students.
“Students now in high school weren’t born yet to be familiar with 9/11 and what happened that fateful day and it’s important for us to be able to share the legacy of the Survivor Tree and draw the connection between that event and how our community responded to tragedy four years ago,” said Kevin Bott, Santa Fe Independent School District superintendent.
The tight-knit community of Santa Fe experienced its version of 9/11 four years ago when a mass shooter opened fire, killing 8 students and 2 teachers, and physically injuring 13 others. In a matter of minutes, Santa Fe experienced a tremendous loss. And to this day, citizens carry an immeasurable amount of trauma and grief – similar to those who survived the horrific attacks on Sept. 11.
The first initiative will be cultivating the seedling so that it can be planted at the future memorial site. David Marks, who serves as the central U.S. vice president at Environmental Design, the firm responsible for planting all 416 trees at the National 9/11 Memorial, including the Survivor Tree, will help the school nurture its seedling and develop a plan to care for it as it grows.
“I’m honored to serve as a consultant for Santa Fe Ten Memorial Foundation, Santa Fe High School, and the entire community as it continues to heal from tragedy and loss. Together, we will grow a tree that will serve as a symbol of hope and strength for many years to come,” said Marks.
The school has other educational opportunities in the works, including a partnership with Trees For Houston. Working closely with the nonprofit dedicated to planting, protecting, and promoting trees, Santa Fe High School students will learn the importance of green space and how it can instill a sense of pride and cooperation in the aftermath of a trauma.
“We believe working hand-in-hand with Environmental Design and Trees For Houston will give Santa Fe students and community members a positive purpose and cause as we develop a sacred place of tribute for generations to visit,” said Megan Grove, chair of Santa Fe Ten Memorial Foundation.
Photos courtesy of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.