LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The community of Athens was joined in solidarity by many East Texas school districts Monday morning in mourning the loss of a middle school student killed after a train crashed into his bus.
The support was made evident as thousands of students and teachers across East Texas arrived at school wearing maroon. Pineywoods Community Academy was one the campuses taking part in #MaroonMonday.
“When we heard about the bad news to happen to the Athens kids, we just thought that it was a really sad and tragic thing that happened," says student Houston Wall. "A few more schools actually got in on it and we thought that we would commemorate them and the injured ones and the loss kids by wearing maroon their colors to kind of show that we are here to help them if they need anything.”
When schools posted #MaroonMonday to wear the school colors for Athens ISD on social media, Pineywoods superintendent Ken Vaughn said he wanted to make sure they showed support.
“We certainly suffer with them, it’s a tragic event. You always pray every day as a superintendent leader of a school that nothing happens with your kids," Vaugh says. "So you look back and think how lucky we are, but definitely our sympathy goes out to the family and hope for the school district as they go through this process and the grieving moments is going to be difficult.”
School officials have reviewed their processes of safety procedures following the tragedy.
“You try to look back and you try to say is there anything we’re doing that we can make sure that we provide update safety training, thought processes we don’t know what happened we certainly don’t want to get on that end of it but we always want our bus drivers to be aware and cognizant and aware of the other person whether it’s a train or vehicle that you’re always paying attention to what’s happening out there.”
For students, they say they have become closer by coming together and supporting everyone impacted by the tragic loss.
“It kind of made us realize that things can be taken away from us at any moment," says Wall. "And that we need to cherish them and be thankful for times like this and come together whenever times like this happen because it was very unfortunate, but it’s times like this where sometimes people grow the strongest.”