Last December, Denver City showed tremendous community spirit when it came together following a tragedy. Three elementary school teachers were killed in a car crash. However, the school along with several volunteers is making sure their legacies live on.
Nine months ago, Marina Natividad, Veronica Flores, and Rosie Garza met their fate at FM 213 and 1780 near Denver City. Crosses now serve as a constant reminder.
Before the accident, all three women wanted to finish the elementary's outdoor learning center, and now friends, family and co-workers are keeping that dream alive.
Marina Natividad's husband, Joey Natividad said of the outdoor learning center, "she wanted a safe place for the kids to be in and she called them her babies."
With the help of Natividad's husband and several teachers, the center is almost finished.
Natividad said, "I'm just trying to keep up what she started. She worked so hard to get this going, so I figured keep it going."
Natividad donates as much as he can. He recently donated a professional bbq cooker, which raised nearly five thousand dollars, Natividad says it's what his wife would've wanted.
Natividad said, "I'd say, 'you know what, you get along so great with those little ones because you have their mentality'. She would get mad, but she would. She would get down on the ground and play with them, she would get to their level and play like a kid."
Kindergarten teacher, Angie Sutton said, "the learning center started out just being a big grassy area."
Now, it's the Little Angels Learning Center, a classroom outside the classroom. The heart of the center is the memorial garden, dedicated to the three teachers after the accident.
Sutton said, "Marina Natividad was a Pre-K teacher that was absolutely passionate about the outdoor learning center so we figured the best way we could honor the memory and keep them all in our hearts forever would be to have a memorial and develop the outdoor learning center."
The community donated ten thousand dollars to the cause. They now have a castle, tricycles, a treehouse and a climbing wall that Marina Natividad always envisioned.
Sutton said, "they're in heaven looking down giving us blessings everyday."
Much more is to come for the learning center. Natividad wishes his wife could be here to enjoy what she started.
"I wish she were here," he said as he held back tears, "she was about to become a grandma. That was her dream, she always wanted to be a grandma."
Teachers stress the center is not a playground, but a place where students can develop motor skills and role play.
If you'd like to donate to the cause, call Kelley Dodson Elementary at 806-592-5920.
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