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Santa Clarita Valley White Ribbon Week kicks off

Posted: May 20, 2013 8:07 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2013 8:07 p.m.

Jasmine Knowles, 18, left, puts a white ribbon on her gown with the help of Lauren Van Grinsven, 18, at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch on Monday.

White Ribbon Week in the Santa Clarita Valley kicked off Monday at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch.

A card bearing a small white ribbon and the names of Sarah Alarid, Jaime M. Arias, Eric Gilhooley, Dakota DeMott and Derek Millsap will be distributed to the class of 2013 at SCV high schools.

The five names represent SCV teens who have lost their lives in vehicular collisions since 2008.

Josh Dubin, a deputy with the SCV Sheriff’s Station, addressed the students about the White Ribbon Week/Drive Safe campaign.

“Back in 2006 the cards we passed out had 24 names, the card today has five names,” he said. “We’re asking you to wear the white ribbon on your gown during graduation not only to show respect for the fallen, but to remember to make smart choices, wise choices during graduation time.”

Bob Vincent, principal of West Ranch, also encouraged students to make “good choices” during graduation week.

“This can be the most dangerous time in a teenager’s life. Too many students lose their lives on graduation night or during graduation week because of drinking and driving or partying,” he said.

Vincent said during his 37 years in education he has attended too many student funerals.

“Sadly, I’ve buried too many students who have died as the result of poor choices they have made. I’m done doing that,” he said. “I have one more year until I retire and I don’t want to go to another funeral for a student.”

Vincent then introduced Peggy Upton, the founder of Safe Rides, who stood to student applause.

Safe Rides, founded in 1986, provides confidential free rides home to students who have become impaired and don’t feel safe driving home.

The rides are offered on Friday and Saturday nights by student volunteers.

Vincent said when Safe Rides started he was the ASB director at Canyon High School.

“We used to have to save a page in the yearbook for the kid that was going to die that year,” he said.
Vincent credited Upton with saving hundreds of lives.

“Penny Upton saw the need and went out and did something about it,” he said.

Bhavna Mistry. of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, said White Ribbon week encourages teens to “drive safe.”

“The campaign is about encouraging high school seniors to drive safe during graduation week,” she said. “We want to educate students about safe driving and avoiding distractions, which can include cell phones or driving impaired.”

After the White Ribbon assembly more than 700 graduates at West Ranch High School picked up the White Ribbon cards as they picked up their graduation caps and gowns.

Graduating Senior Jasmine Knowles said she would wear the white ribbon in honor of those who lost their lives.

“Just because I don’t know any of them doesn’t mean that I can’t honor them,” she said.

White Ribbon Week is sponsored by Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Frontier Toyota, Safe Rides, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department/Santa Clarita and the city of Santa Clarita.


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