‘I miss seeing them play’ | Robb Elementary survivor reflects on one year since a gunman entered the classroom across the hall

Mercedes Salas taught in Room 106 at Robb Elementary. Every day, she still thinks about the 19 students and two teachers who died in the shooting.

UVALDE, Texas — One year ago, teachers at Robb Elementary remember planning an end of the year treat for their students.

Mercedes Salas says she and other teachers planned on giving snow cones to their students on May 24. But that didn’t happen, she says.

“Every day I wake up, I wake up thinking of them, and I pray for them, I pray for my current students,” Salas is still teaching fourth grade in Uvalde. She remembers covering for Mr. Arnulfo Reyes—one of the teachers who was injured in the shooting—whenever he was away from the classroom.

“I loved teaching them even if it was for those 5 minutes, or at recess, seeing them play football, the girls would play tag and I just miss seeing them playing around,” Salas said.

19 students and two teachers were killed on May 24. Salas believes Uvalde hasn’t recovered from the tragedy. At her current school, she waits until after her classes left for the day to cry.

“I have my days, but in front of my kiddos I’m all smiles. They don’t need to know their teacher is sad, their teacher is having a bad day,” she added.

On Monday, one of the final days of the school year, she gave her class snow cones, something she had planned with other teachers at Robb Elementary.

“I’m sure they would’ve enjoyed their snow cone just like them,” Salas decided to print out paper snow cones and leave them at the memorials for each of the victims in the main plaza. She also left yellow roses for some of the students.

It’s one of the several tributes and messages left at the memorial in downtown, which is set to be closed to the public on May 24. The city of Uvalde is not hosting a sanctioned vigil to mark one year since the tragedy.

Salas continues to teach and hopes to leave an impact on other children too. But she still carries the memories of kids and teachers who were close to her.

“We have been saddened by this, taking away 21 people but they should still be here with us,” Salas adds.

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