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Our View: Community truly blessed this holiday

Posted: December 24, 2010 4:10 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

As Christmas 2010 dawns in the Santa Clarita Valley, we have many gifts for which we can be thankful.
Admittedly, 2010 offered a mixed bag of both blessings and disappointments for SCV residents.

In the disappointment column, we have California’s continuing budget struggles, with incoming Gov. Jerry Brown promising some sobering cuts in the coming year.

Unemployment figures released last Friday by the state show Santa Clarita’s unemployment rate inched upward to 8.1 percent last month. One in 12 people in the city are unemployed, figures show.

So what gifts do we have to be thankful for this holiday season?

We should be thankful for our local school system, which remains among the top in California.

New numbers released earlier this month show that our dropout rate continues to fall. At 8.6 percent, it is down almost 2 percent since the 2007-2008 school year and is considerably better than the state average.

In addition, the figures from the California Department of Education showed, our graduation rate is holding at more than 90 percent. Ninety-one percent of sophomores who take the state’s required exit exam pass it on the first try.

Clearly, Santa Clarita Valley schools are blessed with dedicated educators for whom we all can be thankful.

But academics aren’t the only area where our students shine. Consider that Hart High School’s Hart Regiment won its ninth consecutive state championship in its division at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association competition on Dec. 4. No other school in Southern California can make that claim.

Our community high school bands have a long and proud history of excellence. It is a gift for which we all can be thankful.
 Another gift we can be thankful for this holiday season is the plethora of excellent nonprofits and help agencies. The Santa Clarita Valley is filled with generous people, as evidenced by the overwhelming outpouring of support for the family of Tony and Marcela Follett, who lost their home in a fire on Nov. 27.

This community supports 110 different nonprofits and countless help agencies. Agencies such as the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry and the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter work tirelessly year-round to help those less fortunate.

This Christmas Day, we all should stop and say a word of thanks to those professionals and the army of volunteers who give so selflessly to serve others.

Finally, we should pause amidst the gift-giving and the family celebrations to say a word of thanks for our freedom and our nation’s continued prosperity.

We should especially be thankful for our men and women in uniform, both past and present, who have fought so bravely and sacrificed so much to keep us free.

The Santa Clarita Valley has had its share of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

To every soldier who has volunteered to serve our country, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we owe a debt of gratitude forever.

Christmas is a time for giving, and our community has shown that it is willing to give of itself, even after the excitement and the pageantry of the holiday season has faded.

It is that spirit of generosity and that willingness to help others that is the greatest gift of all. It is the characteristic that best defines our community and is the gift for which we should be the most thankful.

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