A mere memory

TISD plan to build memorial for students resurfaces


The original plan for the memorial included a 60-foot flagpole next to a granite wall on which names would be engraved. Drawing by Colton Johnson.

Story by Kristin McCasland, online co-editor-in-chief

Two best friends driving on the interstate. Two best friends headed to school, just like any other day. Two best friends talking about last night’s homework and looking forward to the first football game of the season that night.

Two best friends who would never again walk the halls of Texas High School. Two young lives unfairly taken. Two souls who deserved remembrance.

In 2003, the deaths of these two students, along with others, prompted Student Council and Leadership to start a fund with hopes of building a memorial to honor those who lost their lives while attending Texas High, starting from  1968. Although Texas High did have small memorials, they were removed during the construction of the math and science building.

We had a few different memorials that were in the area between the gym and the student parking lot,” superintendant Paul Norton said. “When the math and science building was constructed, the memorials were removed and stored at our maintenance warehouse, except for those that were retrieved by the families.”

The original plan included a 60-foot flagpole next to a granite wall on which names would be engraved. The memorial was to be located near the pond on the hill leading up to the Sullivan Performing Arts Center, which had not been constructed at the time.

“Patrick Mayo came up with the original conceptual design, started the fundraising and got the ball rolling his senior year, but couldn’t see the full project through because he graduated in 2003,” Texas High alumnus Matthew Scott said. “My class carried the project forward while we could and raised a few more dollars, but it still wasn’t enough to get things started by the time we graduated. I lost touch with the project after graduating in 2004.”

According to the December 2003 issue of the “Tiger Times,” Student Council planned to raise $32,000 to construct the memorial. At the time the article was published, the students had raised $6,543.

“Fundraising was pretty much a grassroots operation,” Scott said. “Calls were made to a few local prominent Texas High graduates who helped get things off the ground with their generous donations, and other donations later were made through more phone calls and knowledge about the project being spread by word of mouth.”

Today, 12 years later, the account’s total is $7,186. Despite the fact that the project was started with the best intentions, it seems to have been forgotten.

However, TISD has made plans to continue the memorial project starting in January. Names of deceased students will be engraved onto plaques, which will be attached to the brick walls on either side of the flagpole in front of the school. At the end of this school year, a ceremony will be held to dedicate the memorial.

Since there is no official record of students who have died while attending Texas High, creating a complete list of names for the memorial will be difficult.

“I will publish a press release in January that tells about the memorial,” TISD public relations director Tina Veal-Gooch said. “Families of students who have passed away will be given the opportunity to contact us if they wish to be included on the memorial.”

After the memorial is completed, the project will be given back to Student Council and Leadership to continue.

“Student Council will play a large part in the continuation of the memorial,” Veal-Gooch said. “It’s easier for the district to initially start the project, but the students will be responsible for updating the memorial as time goes on.”