LOCKHART, Texas — Nearly one week after the San Marcos CISD community was rocked by tragedy, students in a different district stepped up to offer their support by writing letters.
On Feb. 24, an 11-year-old girl died at Goodnight Middle School in San Marcos after she was accidentally hit by a car in the drop-off lane, according to the San Marcos Police Department. The child was later pronounced dead in the parking lot.
Jana Tafoya teaches grade six English at Lockhart Junior High School in Lockhart, which is roughly 30 minutes away from Goodnight Middle School.
Tafoya said her initial reaction to the tragedy was that the incident could have happened at any school. The effects from the incident wouldn't just be felt within the San Marcos community but among Tafoya's students as well.
"Just to lose a friend at that age must be unspeakable. I thought of the teachers, too. You know, I can't imagine losing a student of my own, especially at school during the day. And so, I was just shocked. I thought, you know, that could have easily been us, too," Tafoya said.
Tafoya decided feeling heartbroken over the situation wasn't enough. She wanted the Goodnight Middle community to know that despite being in a different district and city, they did not need to face that feeling alone.
"I just had the idea to have each kid write an individual letter. I said that they could just write it to the students or to the whole community and just send over their best thoughts and something that would comfort them if this had happened to us," Tafoya explained.
Angel Guerra and Tyson Alexander are two of Tafoya's students who sent letters. Guerra and Alexander said they were aware of what happened and realized after their teacher introduced them to the assignment that they both wanted to be part of the community's healing.
"I was overwhelmed and really shocked about what happened, even, like, how young she was and what happened. Like, some kids had to witness it and it was just like a really sad thing," Alexander said. "I just want to say that we're here for them, and they're loved. And if a tragedy ever happens to them, like, we're here and every other community. They're safe, and we love them a lot."
Alexander mentioned that he knows some of the students at Goodnight Middle School, and he hopes his message gets across to anyone who finds themselves in a tough spot.
"There's kids that struggle every day and stuff with this type of stuff and that the schools were so close to us and there's like, a bunch of communities and we're really close to them," Alexander said
Guerra, on the other hand, said despite not knowing the students at the middle school, she hopes her words have some impact.
"I can't even imagine myself in the friends' and families' place. I'll be absolutely devastated," Guerra said. "I hope everyone sees their cards, everyone knows our empathy and how we feel for them."
Tafoya said Lockhart Junior High mailed the letters on Thursday and they are expected to be delivered to Goodnight Middle School by Friday.
San Marcos CISD will be observing a mental health half-day at all campuses on Friday to provide social and emotional support to both staff and students.