Hundreds attend vigil for Taft High School principal

SAN ANTONIO – Nearly 200 people attended a Thursday night vigil at Taft High School in memory of Principal Tommy Garcia, who died Tuesday from complications following a heart attack.

Two Taft seniors organized the vigil after one of them attended a prayer event on Wednesday morning.

“We had a prayer the other morning and that was empowering,” senior Steven Sanchez said. “I hope to have the same effect tonight. With everyone out here, I think we can accomplish that.”

“I'm so amazed,” said Dejah Battles, another Taft senior who helped spread the word along with Sanchez. “We knew that there was going to be a good turnout, but it's just it's crazy to see how many people are actually getting together.”

Alumni from throughout Garcia’s 13 years on campus turned out, some of them spoke about the long-lasting impact he had on their lives.

“My image of a principal was Ms. Trunchbull from 'Matilda,' and so I'm so happy he wasn't like Ms. Trunchbull,” Battles said. “He would always get the crowd pumping. He would always get them excited. I know I was excited to come to school whenever I met him.”

“My dad used to tell me, 'If you know the principal good, that's trouble. You don't want to know the principal,’” Sanchez said. “Complete opposite for Mr. Garcia. He was a funny man, goofy guy. He had a big heart and he cared so much about the students.”

The district had additional counselors on campus Wednesday and Thursday for faculty and students.

The family will hold a visitation Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Sacred Heart chapel at Our Lady of the Lake University followed by a rosary at 4 p.m. A funeral Mass will take place Monday at 9:30 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic church.