KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
May 2, 2020
By Jennifer Miko and Katrina Katsarelis
Katy High School families, fans, and alumni raised money to create an extra special photo tribute for the Class of 2020.
Example: Photo by Kenny West/Poplar Springs High School
An Inspirational Idea Comes to Katy
In April, Katy Mom Emily Melcher-Goudeau posted a story on The Katy Train’s Facebook page about a small town with a big idea for honoring their Class of 2020. Kenny West, the principal of Poplar Springs High School displayed seniors' photos (30 in total) along his driveway in Graceville, FL. (See story here)
All Aboard for The Katy Train
It didn’t take long for The Katy Train's members to get behind this idea, and for volunteers to step up, and a plan to take shape. The Katy Train is a page for Katy Tiger Fans. According to their page description, "It was created to discuss, support and share information about our student athletes, their teams, sports and our community."
Tiger Fans Make a Plan
“Anyone that knows anything about Katy High School, knows KHS fans, parents and alumni pull together,” says Chris Harris, a City of Katy council member and KHS alumni. “Robert Willeby and myself thought that the KHS community could pull together and do this for our community’s graduates.”
NBD Graphics in Katy agreed to produce all of the 24”x24” signs for the seniors. Now, the group needed to raise $3800 to cover the big project.
Community Quickly Raises Funds
Willeby posted this message on The Katy Train page: “We asked for $3800 and 132 people raised $6188 in just over 24 hours for the 2020 graduates of Katy High School. God bless Texas and our Katy community.”
The post was later amended with a final total raised of $6313. After the signs are paid for, the remaining balance of the funds raised will be donated to KHS on behalf of the Senior Sign Project Team.
Proposed Route and Timing
The red trail in the map shows the proposed location for the senior signs. The signs will be displayed along the streets closest to the high school.
Harris says the organizers are “still working on the exact timing, but plans are for volunteers to put the signs out the week before graduation to honor our kiddos and wish them success. They are the next generation.”
Rounding up Photos and Details
The project organizers will accept alternate pictures if the student didn’t arrange their senior portrait through the school. Each student on the KHS graduation list will be included. However, if they have privacy restrictions, the organizers must have permission to include the student’s picture. Signs for these students will still be made (to be picked up later) but will not be part of the display. All posted signs will be available for the students to claim after graduation.
KHS Seniors Appreciate the Katy Train Tribute
When school was cancelled, Demetri Garza immediately thought about all the memorable “senior moments” he would be missing. He appreciates the support of the Katy community helping to fund this special project.
“With these donations, not only will I have a memorable experience, but one that is incredibly unique!” says Demetri Garza.
“The Katy Community is very united and we are so grateful that so many supported the class of 2020,” says Diana Garza, Demetri's mom. "With such uncertain times and so many special moments missed it’s a great way to honor all of their hard work.”
“I feel very grateful and appreciative that our community has come together to share some positivity by supporting us in this unprecedented time,” adds Demetri Garza.
This fall, Demetri Garza will pursue a major in business at The University of Texas at Austin.
Katy High School senior Sophie Wheeless said it hurts to see the things she’s looked forward to being canceled.
“This tribute is definitely a nice way to feel recognized for all of our hard work in this scary time,” says Sophie Wheeless.
Sophie’s mom, Lerin Wheeless understands the decision to close the schools and cancel events, but she admits it has been heartbreaking to miss out on the last senior milestones.
“It was always going to be a difficult time,” says Lerin Wheeless. “But having the "lasts" and traditional celebrations unexpectedly lost has made it that much harder.”
In the fall, Sophie Wheeless will attend Columbia College in Chicago to study theatre directing.
“To everyone who donated and made this possible, please know that it does not go unnoticed,” says Sophie Wheeless. “The fact that you would take time out of your day to honor us as students really means a lot.”
Lerin Wheeless also appreciates the Katy Community thinking of the high school seniors right now.
“I think we all remember how important these final days in high school meant to us, and our hearts go out to all the kids who have had such an abrupt and unceremonious ending to their year,” says Lerin Wheeless. “We have been so touched to know that Katy cares about our children and wants to help them celebrate in this unusual circumstance.”
Harris adds, “I have a senior and I know what this means to her, that the City of Katy and our KHS community supports our hometown kids and recognize this is one of the many challenges they will face in their lifetime.”
Interested volunteers can join The Katy Train Facebook page or email email@example.com.