Martin High seniors make prom a possibility for West students

Posted Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Martin High School seniors are supplying their West High School counterparts with more than water bottles and school supplies.

They hope to give the seniors of the devastated Central Texas town their prom back.

Martin High student council officers have dedicated today’s homecoming celebration and service project to the seniors at West’s only high school.

The West fertilizer plant explosion in April killed 15 people. And it left the 1,500 students in the West school district without classrooms.

Martin students visited the town in late July. They found homes destroyed, buildings missing windows and walls, and West High School gone. Students will be going to classes in old FEMA trailers until at least 2015.

“The seniors won’t get to walk through the halls of high school for their last year, so we thought that by giving them prom, we could give them some kind of normalcy,” said Katie Pordash , a student council officer and homecoming chairwoman.

The two high schools happen to share the same school colors. The Martin students are selling black and red bracelets that read “Remember the Trojans,” and “Warriors for West” T-shirts to raise $5,000. They plan to give the money to the West school district to be spent on a prom.

They have sold almost all of the 215 T-shirts.

Martin students also plan to seek donations of prom dresses.

Elaborate banners drape entire walls of Martin’s hallways with patriotic drawings and references to West. Student council officer Trevor White got down on the floor and helped paint one of the banners despite a football injury that left his right leg broken and encased in a boot.

“Even though we don’t know them, we’ve been going through this with them,” he said of West students.

‘They lost everything’

After the April explosion, Martin teacher Richard Ellis mentioned that he had a friend who coached at West Intermediate School, which was the closest to the site of the explosion.

Pordash, White and Rachel Cendrick, another student council officer who is on the homecoming court, decided they should do something to help.

They donated money left from a previous school benefit concert featuring Pentatonix (a contemporary a cappella music quintet founded by Martin graduates) to help the middle school rebuild its PE department. They donated $2,500, which paid for jump-ropes, basketballs and other equipment.

“It gave the kids something to look forward to,” West teacher Chad McLin said of his students. “It gave them a chance to forget about the stuff. The easiest way to help little kids feel better is to give them something to play with.”

For the past three years, Martin seniors have dedicated their homecoming theme and projects to a community service project. This year’s seniors decided to continue the relationship with West students for their project and have spent several hundred hours on it, including work by the yearbook staff, the Spanish Club and Key Club, student council adviser Carolyn Powers said.

West prom planners don’t know yet where the evening will be, but Martin and Baylor University in Waco have offered facilities.

Martin students plan to visit a West pep rally soon to present the check.

“Our students have learned through groups like Martin High School how important it is to give,” said Jan Hungate , assistant superintendent for the West school district.

“It’s just been so neat. I can’t stress enough how important it is for kids to learn to give.”

Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST

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Video: Warriors for West

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