Through song and dance, friends remember 17-year-old killed by Austin bomber

Austin

The school 17-year-old Austin bombing victim Draylen Mason attended held a vigil to remember him Tuesday evening.

Hundreds of classmates, friends and community members crowded in the auditorium at East Austin College Prep’s MLK campus.

The Austin Soundwaves, the school orchestra group Mason was a member of, played in his honor. His classmates said Mason was the only bassist, so their instructor stepped in and played in Mason’s place during the vigil.

“We have all agreed that every note we play it would be for him,” said Mason’s friend, Fatima Cisneros-Acevedo before the performance. “So even if we do cry and we can’t read the notes on the sheet music anymore, we’ll keep playing and we’ll all act like we’re Draylen.”

For Draylen’s classmates, teachers, friends and family members, it wasn’t an easy night to get through.
His orchestra played some of his favorite songs in his honor.

Classmates and teachers also danced in his memory, saying Mason loved to dance. They also told stories about him, including stories from a service trip he attended in Thailand, to help build an orphanage.

“Just to remember him for being this intelligent, enthusiastic incredibly funny guy,” one of his close friends, Jazmin Lopez said. “I know it’s a very difficult time for my friends and his family, but I just want everybody to keep celebrating him and honoring him.”

Community members who didn’t even personally know Draylen helped pack the auditorium to pay their respects.

“He wanted to impact peoples lives, and I feel like he has impacted peoples lives throughout his story,” said orchestra classmate Lucerito Gonzalez.

Mason’s teachers shared that they’ve had just as hard of a time coping with Mason’s death as many students.

“It’s our job to channel that anger into something positive, like Draylen would have done,” said Jacqueline Vidal, who’d been teaching Mason history since the 7th grade. “It’s the kids that are coming together and choosing in their anger, in their fear, and all their nasty emotions this has brought on, they are choosing to bring out the best. If anything, they are definitely the ones that are being strong for me, personally.”

A Push for Peace walk was held outside of Mason’s school earlier in the month. Another vigil for all of the bombing victims was held in Pflugerville last week.

Fellowship in Mason’s Honor

In honor of Mason, the Hispanic Alliance says it has created the Draylen Mason Fellows Program to help high school musicians further their musical interests. The Hispanic Alliance operates Austin Soundwaves, a program Mason was a part of. 

The fellowship will pick up to five students every year. Once chosen, they will receive intensive weekly private instructions as well as access to a network of musicians and mentors. 

“We want to make sure that we honor Draylen in the most meaningful way possible,” said Patrick Slevin, CEO of the Hispanic Alliance and a mentor of Mason’s. “Music changed Draylen’s life, and I think he would want to see us share that gift with as many students as possible.”

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