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Santa Clarita honors 16 as ‘teen heroes’

Posted: May 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Placerita Junior High School student Alexandra Youmazzo speaks to the audience about her experience with a disease that caused her hair to fall out at a young age.

Santa Clarita and local government officials recognized 16 local students as Santa Clarita Valley “teen heroes” Thursday night for their courage and determination in the face of adversity.
The ceremony, attended by about 100 people in the Santa Clarita Activities Center, was meant to recognize students who have come through difficult times in their lives, said City Councilwoman Marsha McLean.
“You guys are so special, and we just so appreciate you,” McLean told the students.
The ceremony was hosted by the city’s Anti-Gang Task Force — a collection of local agencies, law enforcement volunteers and city staff dedicated to preventing students from joining gangs or engaging in other negative behaviors.
Most of the honorees hailed from schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District, while one currently attends California State University, Northridge.
During the ceremony Dakota Thompson, a senior at Canyon High School and one of the 16 honorees, talked about his experiences in the foster care system and how a close friend helped him land on his feet.
And through his experiences, Thompson said he learned one crucial lesson.
“Don’t ever give up,” he told the crowd.
Another honoree, Placerita Junior High School student Alexandra Youmazzo, talked about her experience with a disease that caused all of her hair to fall out at a young age.
Though some students point and stare, Youmazzo said she has no problems being who she is.
“All that matters is what you think of yourself,” she said.
Bowman High School student Nikari Campbell talked about how the programs at the school helped transform her from someone who did not care about school into someone who is about to walk proudly across the stage as a high school graduate.
“I have a totally different perspective now,” Campbell said.
Each of the honorees received a bag filled with items donated by local businesses and a certificate marking their achievement.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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