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Jefferson Silva community plants 23 trees to honor victims of Aug. 3 tragedy

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EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- The Jefferson Silva community came together Friday morning to plant 23 trees – a tribute to those who lost their lives in the Aug. 3 tragedy at the Cielo Vista Walmart two years ago.

Football coach Tony Martinez organized the event to plant the 22 spartan junipers and one Raywood ash along the backside of the stadium near the canal. The lone Raywood ash, lined up with the 50-yard line, honors the memory of alumnus Arturo Benevidez.

“We are not only beautifying our campus but at the same time commemorating the lives of those lost in the Walmart tragedy,” said head football coach Tony Martinez. “Our students are taking ownership and pride in the tradition of Jefferson and doing something for the community.”

More than 60 students, many athletes and Student Council kids, joined with teachers and coaches and members of the alumni group Moyes Boys for the project.

“I think it’s something small but something meaningful for their families and those who love them,” said Student Council President Katie Perez. “I think it’s helpful seeing that people are still remembering them.’

Junior Ruben Martinez joined his football teammates and StuCo friends digging holes, planting and adding mulch. The bonding experience gave him both a sense of pride for his community and high school.

“I’m here to give back to the community and to remember the victims of the shooting,” he said. “With the new trees, the area is going to look even better with the new school we are getting.”

EPISD will be joining the City of El Paso Tuesday for El Paso Strong Day, a day of healing and unity to honor the lives lost.