Senior Skip Day, the unofficial holiday most high school students take near the end of their last spring semester, got a serious twist at San Marcos High School (SMHS) this year.
Heny Patel, SMHS senior, said many students decided to turn Senior Skip Day into Senior Service Day after seeing the damage caused by the May 24 flash floods.Patel said 50 to 60 seniors volunteered their time May 26, helping throughout the city.
“We just kind of got together and decided we were going to be productive on our Senior Skip Day and help the people of San Marcos,” Patel said. “Our group was assigned to help those affected on River Road, which was, I believe, one of the most impacted parts of San Marcos.”
Trinity Rinear, SMHS senior, said many students volunteered in their own neighborhoods.
“We had six students in my group, but there were many more from the senior class that volunteered,” Rinear said. “Some people did things individually because their own neighbors were affected or they already knew families that needed help.”
Rinear said she decided to get involved after seeing a post on Facebook by Serve San Marcos asking for volunteers.
“Some people wanted to go to the beach and others just wanted a day to sleep at home, but after it flooded I just decided volunteering was the best use of my time,” Rinear said. “I know a few people who were affected by the flood and many of them lost everything.”
Patel said the group went door-to-door on River Road helping residents bring trash from their homes to dumpsters the city had dropped off.
“We helped to remove wet carpets and clean out the trash that was left behind in people’s homes and front yards,” said Loren Gamez, SMHS senior. “This was my first time to see the river flood. I was really surprised to see how may people were affected.”
Rinear said the damage hit her on a personal level when the group had the opportunity to help out a local teacher.
“You hear about what happened and you see the pictures, but you don’t really realize how bad it is until you submerge yourself in the situation,” Rinear said. “It really hit me whenever we went to the home of one of the teachers at the high school and helped her clean up.”
Rinear said she had seen the river flood once before.
“About a year and a half ago it flooded pretty bad and was over the road by my school, but it was nothing like what happened this time,” Rinear said. “I think most people kind of underestimate how bad it’s going to be until they are actually seeing it with their own eyes.”
The volunteer efforts did not stop when seniors hung up their gloves and boots May 26, Gamez said. SMHS officials have been encouraging students in every grade to help flood victims any way they can.
“Throughout the week the principal has been making announcements telling everyone that if they need attendance hours or volunteer hours for an organization, this is a great way to give back to the community,” Gamez said.
Gamez said volunteering opened her eyes to the extent of the damage throughout the city.
“Getting out and volunteering really put it all into perspective for me,” Gamez said. “As beautiful as nature is, it’s really a force to be reckoned with sometimes.”
Gamez encouraged anyone in the San Marcos community who was not affected by the flood to take advantage of the many ways to get involved.
“I encourage people to do what they can to help,” Gamez said. “Even if you don’t think there’s a lot that you can do because you can’t lift furniture out of houses, there is still plenty of things that need to be done.”