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The Year in Review, October: Fears and hopes mark October

Classroom sizes increase, homeless man stabbed to death and zombies gather food for needy

Posted: December 28, 2009 10:24 p.m.
Updated: December 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Brandy Sims, left, of Studio Makeup Academy, applies makeup to Rhiannon Walsh outside Brave New World comic store.

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October, being the month of Halloween, had plenty of people in fear.

Budget cuts caused an increase in classroom sizes, while officials reported an increase in drug use in schools. The fatal stabbing of a homeless man in Canyon Country stunned the surrounding community. Worries about the seasonal flu drew about 1,500 to a drive-through shot clinic in Valencia.

But despite it all, there was hope: More than 500 dressed-up "zombies" filled up several shopping carts with food for the homeless in Newhall, and Disney-ABC announced plans to build a massive production campus on its Melody Ranch property, which may give a major boost to the local economy.

Local schools feel the squeeze
Oct. 4 - Classrooms got more crowded and teachers strapped with more duties as state cuts to educations cascaded down to the Santa Clarita Valley.

With the state in financial crisis, classroom swelled in number of students.

"To some degree, we had no choice but to increase class sizes," said Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger.

Funding deficits like the $4.3 million reduction the Newhall district has seen over the last two fiscal years, have led school districts to increase class sizes as one way to save money.

The classrooms sizes are expected to remain at current levels through the 2010-11 school year.

Drug use up in SCV schools
Oct. 11 - Drug use among Santa Clarita Valley school children trended upward in 2009.

From January through August this year, there have been 10 narcotics-related incidents reported at Canyon High School, equal to the number of such incidents for the calendar year of 2008. The school responded to the increase by holding a special educational assembly for juniors and seniors about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

The 2008-09 school year saw an abrupt upswing in drug-related problems at Canyon High School, according to Bob Messina, school principal.

"This past year, there was an inordinate amount of drug and alcohol incidents," Messina said, noting the phenomenon was unusual for the campus that he describes as peaceful. "We just had a rash (of incidents), and it was between the February and March area. It was just crazy."

William S. Hart Union High School District stressed that its campuses are safe despite the frightening statistics.

Zombies take over SCV
Oct. 17 - More than 500 Santa Clarita Valley residents sported ragged clothing and spooky makeup to become zombies and take over the streets of downtown Newhall in a zombie walk hosted by the comic book shop Brave New World.

"I want to eat some brains. I missed out on lunch," said Anthony Villwock, of Acton, in October.

But the zombies came with a purpose. The participants filled more than 12 shopping carts with canned goods for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

The zombie march was a way to promote the Heritage Haunt at William S. Hart Park and even attracted participants from outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, thanks to help from social networking Web sites like Facebook.

Homeless man stabbed to death
Oct. 26 - Local shop owners and transients were shocked to find out that a man was stabbed to death in a homeless encampment in a Canyon Country riverbed. The 34-year-old victim was believed to be a transient. Officials say he was stabbed during a fight after he and a group of companions appeared to be drinking. While the man, whose name was not released, was found alive that evening, he was taken to a local hospital where he died.

Disney-ABC unveils plans
Oct. 29 - Disney is coming to the Santa Clarita Valley in the form of a 56-acre production studio, which would include dozens of soundstages.

When completed, the Disney ABC Studios at the Ranch, would employ 2,854 people and inject more $500 million into the local economy. The Ranch would be located along the western edge of Disney's Golden Oak Ranch property.

"It's the harbinger we might see more TV production come back to California," said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA. "I can't imagine them not crunching numbers, including the fact that California has now, for the first time, gotten into direct competition with the other 40 states offering incentives."

Residents line up for shot
Oct. 30 - Santa Clarita Valley residents lined up at College of the Canyons to get one of more than 1,500 seasonal flu shots administered during the annual drive-through flu clinic.

Nearly 900 cars passed through the community college's Valencia campus. Officials reported an increase in the number of shots given, which was attributed to a greater awareness about of the vaccine.

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