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Uvalde breaks ground on new elementary school that will honor victims in a new era of healing

La excavación ceremonial en la ceremonia de inauguración de la nueva escuela primaria de Uvalde, a partir de 2025.
Jia Chen / TPR
La excavación ceremonial en la ceremonia de inauguración de la nueva escuela primaria de Uvalde, a partir de 2025.

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A groundbreaking was held in Uvalde Saturday for a new elementary school to replace the facility that was the site of the worst school shooting in Texas history.

Lalo Diaz, a life-long Uvalde resident, is co-chair of the committee that helped architects design the new school.

He called it "a symbol of moving forward for the community" and "a bright light in a dark time."

"When we looked into the process of building the school, as far as mental health and safety, it really blew my mind as to what we were able to accomplish," Diaz said.

The campus will have a courtyard at the center so students can be outside but also stay in a protected space.

And at the center of the courtyard will stand a metal sculpture shaped like a tree, with 21 branches representing the children and teachers lost in the Robb Elementary School shooting.

Symbols of monarch butterflies and honeybees will decorate the new spaces.

Uvalde CISD will break ground on a new school, at a new location, late this summer.

"Our Uvalde community will show the world how the events of May 24th, 2022 will not define the community but instead will demonstrate the resilience of our community and our ability to move forward together," said Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District President Luis Fernandez.

The Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation said fundraising for the $60 million project to move the school to a new location is about 75 percent complete.

Representatives from HEB and the Butt family, who donated $10 million to the effort, were on hand.

Jerry Mata, the father of Tess Mata, one of the children killed in the shooting, took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

A name for the new school has not yet been chosen, but the school will be open to students beginning with the 2025-2026 school year.

Officials say Robb Elementary School will be demolished after one more investigation into the shooting response is complete.

For many of the victims' families, healing cannot truly begin until they get answers to the question of whether lives could have been saved had law enforcement acted faster.

A 21-second moment of silence was held Saturday to honor the victims as the Uvalde community came together to attempt to take one more step forward.

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Jia Chen is a freelance journalist and photographer for Texas Public Radio. She began with TPR working as the Bexar County selected Summer Arts Intern in 2021. Her coverage includes arts & culture, technology, politics, and more. She holds a BA in Communication from University of Texas at San Antonio and has lived in San Antonio for over 20 years.