The citizens of Wylie, Texas, will never forget Monday, April 11, 2016—a day that will be forever sketched in their memories. For many hours, the scene in our town was complete chaos. We dealt with power outages, un-drivable cars, roofs with gaping holes, and, for a time, no access to 911 or emergency services. While the entire community felt the effects of the day, Wylie ISD took a direct blow. Akin Elementary, for example, had more glass on the floors than it did carpet, and rain poured in through areas where glass once protected our most precious commodities—our children. With a total of $59,000,000 in damages to our buildings, and a much larger monetary total to the city, good news was hard to find.
However, as Monday turned into the wee hours of Tuesday, despair turned to hope. Neighbors helped each other to board up windows, offered shelter to those who were in need, and cleared spots for friends and strangers to sleep. Churches, businesses, and local service organizations volunteered money, services, and just plain old hard work to provide their neighbors somewhere to stay that was safe and dry. As we came together to help one another, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of hope. It reminded me of Winston Churchill’s address to Great Britain as they faced World War II. Churchill explained that, when people looked back at that moment, history would prove that “This was their finest hour!” It’s funny to think that the devastation of a storm could bring about so much goodness. However, when we fast-forward to now, we see that our schools have never looked better, and our community has never been more whole. This truly is OUR finest hour.
Over the past few days, I have noticed many of our kids and staff members wearing yellow ribbons and/or t-shirts with yellow ribbon designs. I have come to find out that the yellow ribbon is in support of Wylie High School freshman, Diweni Jituboh, for her recent diagnosis with cancer. While disasters like storms inspire people to help each other, nothing rallies our folks in Wylie ISD more than a student in need. This is evident in Kim Watkins.
Kim has students in the Wylie ISD right now, but Diweni is not one of them. However, you would never know that by her actions. As Wylie High School principal, Virdie Montgomery, said,
“Mrs. Watkins has taken friendship to an all new level of love and support. She was there during the beginning when they were desperately trying to find what was wrong with Diweni. It was devastating news and the parents took this news so hard. Kim was there with them and in the coming days she was with them with the doctors. She took copious notes and helped them to understand what was about to happen in this process of treatment. She has been there night and day and I will tell you without her I don’t know what this family would have done. Mrs. Watkins has incredible insight to the medical side of this and she has been such a great source for the family. It is her mission to be there and I don’t know that I have ever seen this type of commitment in my 40 years in the business. She has so many fundraiser things going on that it is hard to keep up. She touches my heart daily with her Caring Bridge log for Diweni’s march through this. She is selling t-shirts, bracelets, and yard signs. They have designed a logo that is now her brand. I have a mug with that on it already. Please know that this is service and caring beyond measure and her energy and enthusiasm appears to just now be getting started.”
Mr. Montgomery’s testimony is so powerful. Thank you, Mrs. Watkins, for all you are doing to help Diweni and her family. You have no idea how much we appreciate you!
The response to Diweni is just one more example of how our community responds when someone is in need. While she may not be my kid, I see her as one of my own. She is my neighbor, she is my friend, and she is my family.
Regardless of what life brings, I am confident that we will always pull through. The journey will be hard, but I know we will get through it together. One day, people will look back on the history of Wylie ISD and see all the hope we spread to each other like rain from the sky. They will say, “This was their finest hour!”
You all make me smile, become optimistic, and even tear up a little when I see the ripples of hope from your acts of kindness, Wylie family. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You are the Wylie Way!