From San Antonio, you take I-35 S until you hit Hwy. 90W just outside of the city limits. You’ll then hit Castroville, which everyone pronounces Casterville and drive a bit before getting to D’hanis. After D’hanis, you’ll pass through Sabinal, then Knippa, and about an hour and twenty minutes later you’ll arrive in Uvalde.


In Texas, this is what’s known as a quick trip down the road.


And it’s a trip I’ve made more times than I can remember. Over the years of working in education, I have conducted workshops with the Uvalde School Board and helped their teachers get the educational resources they’ve needed to help their students grow as readers and writers.


Now everyone knows Uvalde.


We know Uvalde the way we know Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sandy Hook, Santa Fe, and Columbine.


What we don’t know is when we’ll say “Never Again” for the next one because there always seems to be a next one.


I know this because as I watched the news coverage of the Uvalde tragedy, I saw David Hogg interviewed. David Hogg was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Today, he’s an outspoken activist for gun safety legislation. I also know there will be a next time because I read #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line, the book David Hogg and his sister Lauren Hogg wrote about their experience at Marjory Stoneman Douglas that Valentine’s Day.


David begins chapter one writing: “When you open your eyes but the nightmare doesn’t go away, you’ve got no choice but to do something. Our first job now is to remember. Our second job is to act. Remember, act, repeat. Since that day, none of us are the same. But we are alive. And in memory of those who are not, we will remember and act for the rest of our lives.” 


Lauren later writes, “I was born in 2003, so Columbine happened before I was born, 9/11 happened before I was born, and I’ve grown up since kindergarten with code-red drills. My generation has been trained to deal with things like this.”


I’m sure the second through fourth graders who make up the student body at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, had practiced those same code-red drills. I have practiced those drills with my students and seen high schoolers gasp in fear when someone on the outside of the door grabs and rattles the handle as a part of the drill.


For those students, the drill ends and they go back to their lives—or do they? 


Like everyone else watching this tragedy, I mourn, I ask questions, I hope never again, and I wonder about how I can help. And though I no longer have a classroom of my own, I lean on books as one of the answers for what to do. 


Initial inclinations often lean towards shielding students from thinking and reading about these experiences, but giving students the opportunity to process their thinking through the pages of books may help them make sense of the senseless. Along with #NeverAgain, Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories, We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists, and People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins are all excellent titles to have in classroom libraries. 


This week, I was supposed to write about magics, martians, and other worlds for our science fiction and fantasy theme, but as much as escaping the tragedies of this world appeals to me, prime directives and galaxies far, far away will have to wait because this world gets extra small when the next #neveragain is just down the road past D’hannis and Knippa.





Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.