August 31st-a day Midland and Odessa will never forget.
“It was a really big shocker you know, because you hear about it happening in other places and naturally you don’t expect it to happen where you live," said Cross Adams, Compass Academy Charter School art teacher.
A mass shooting claimed the lives of seven including the youngest victim, 15 year old Leilah Hernandez. She was shot while exiting a car dealership with her brother.
“I’ve taught well over a thousand students and some you remember and some you forget but she was one that I remembered like immediately when I heard her. Not even seeing a picture, just hearing her name I remembered who she was," said Cross.
"She was such a sweet girl, she was very artistic and creative, just very polite to everyone. She was a little shy sometimes, but she was never disruptive just 'yes sir, no sir.. please and thank you all the time."
After inspiration from the way the community came together, Cross decided to give back in the only way he knew how.. with art.
“I found her mother on Facebook and I wanted to know if it would be OK to do a portrait of Leilah free of charge. She said she would be very grateful for that," said Cross.
After thirty hours of sketching and planning, it was now time to gift Leilah’s parents with something they can hold forever.
“Her family was there and you know they came out and they looked at it and you know they were quiet for a couple of minutes while they were reflecting on it. They got a little teary-eyed and she would tell me a little bit about what happened in each of those photos," said Cross.
"The ones where you’re drawing somebody that you know personally who has passed away, it is more emotional you find yourself thinking about that person a lot more and just remembering things that happened with that person," said Cross."
The gift of giving-something Cross hopes will inspire others to do more often, no matter how big or small.
“Even if you think it’s something little, it could potentially be something big to somebody else. I saw a lot of that happening in the aftermath of everything that happened. So just tell people to love one another and to encourage each other and to help each other whenever they can," said Cross.
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