Uvalde School Shooting

Foundation With North Texas Ties Plans New Uvalde Elementary

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In the days following the tragedy in Uvalde, the world stopped to reflect on the 21 lives lost. Then, the focus turned to those who survived and what it would take to make them feel safe.

“I think I began to think in that moment, 'what could you do?' It finally dawned on me towards the end of that first week that those children could never go back into Robb Elementary,” said former Texas State Senator Beverly Powell.

Powell was among a small circle who began talking in those early days, discussing how Texans could help this town of 15,000 move forward.

“A community the size of Uvalde is traumatized by an event like this in ways that make it pretty hard to do the planning and lay all the groundwork for a bond initiative. Sometimes that takes years. And when you think about it, you can’t imagine children waiting years to get back in a new facility,” she said.

Just one month after the tragedy, the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation was formed to raise money for and design a replacement for Robb Elementary on a plot across town.

It’s a process that’s been guided in part by a 50-member community advisory committee, along with families of the victims, according to executive director Tim Miller.

“Getting input from the community has been a big part of it because it’s not the foundation’s school, it’s the Uvaldians school. So that process that we’ve gone through so far has resulted in a school that incorporates the colors and the feel and the materials that are available in Uvalde and the surrounding area,” said Miller.

Fort Worth-based Huckabee Architects, who signed on to the project free of charge, drafted the schematics that were approved by Uvalde’s board of trustees last month.

CEO Chris Huckabee said there were several challenges, including the fact that this would be the district’s first new school since the 1980s.

“Uvalde didn’t have the benefit of the security of a school today,” said Huckabee.

While some of the new school’s safety measures will be visible, like card key accessed doors and fencing, Huckabee said most won’t be made public.  

“We’re willing to take parents privately through and show them the level of thinking and the level of layering that’s put into this project, but we don’t want to talk about it publicly for obvious reasons. We feel like it needs to be private and kept with the community, but it is a substantially heightened level of security and awareness that’s put into this building,” he said.

Also unique to the project is its heavy reliance on trauma-informed design.

Larger than most, the new elementary will include breakout spaces for counseling and gathering places for the community.

It will also pay tribute to the lives lost through memorials like a tree complete with 21 branches.

The foundation said it’s 70% of the way to raising the money needed. It hopes fundraisers, like one held in Dallas last month, and a crowdsourcing campaign can help them reach their goal of $60 million.

At the end of the day, organizers hope the project will be a labor of love made possible by Texans from all over the state.

“Uvalde should not be remembered for the tragedy. What Uvalde should be remembered for is how they came together and healed through the process,” said Miller.

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