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Coast to coast, Saugus to Saugus

Officials, students from high school in Massachusetts make trek to SCV

Posted: May 24, 2013 6:28 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2013 6:28 p.m.

From left, Richard Lavoie, Gillian Lyons, and Gianna Zirpolo, from Saugus High School in Massachusetts, take a tour of Saugus High School in Saugus on Friday with Principal Bill Bolde.

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It all began with a package.

The package arrived in the office of Saugus High School earlier this year filled with T-shirts, caps and individualized notes to teachers and staff members.

“There were personal notes saying, ‘We appreciate you. You don’t even know who we are but we’re so glad you’re investing in the life of kids out there in California,’” said Saugus High School Principal Bill Bolde.

But the decision to send the package to the Santa Clarita high school may not have been so random. The package came from another Saugus High School, located in Saugus, Mass.

The package was largely the brainchild of social studies teacher Richard Lavoie and was meant as a way to perform random acts of kindness in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left more than 20 dead and more wounded.

‘Other’ Saugus
Saugus, Mass., is also known as the birthplace of Henry Mayo Newhall.

Newhall was instrumental in both the founding and naming of Saugus, which he named after his hometown.

The town of Newhall, located nearby, was later named in his honor.

“It’s really a historical connection,” Bolde said of the bond between the two Saugus High schools.

The two schools strengthened that bond this week when Lavoie and some students traveled from Massachusetts to visit the Santa Clarita Valley.

Lavoie said he enjoyed getting to meet some of the employees at Saugus that had been positively impacted by the package he and his students sent out.

“The thanks were there in the welcome and their handshakes and making us feel really like a part of a community,” Lavoie said Friday.

That sense of community will be strengthened moving forward, Bolde said, as the two schools work to create a sister school relationship and more frequent visits in the future.

Paying it forward
The original random act of kindness from those in Saugus, Mass., does not stop in the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, it extends all the way back across the country.

When Todd Hardy, the principal of Broome High School in Spartanburg, S.C., received a package filled with memorabilia from Santa Clarita’s Saugus High School a few weeks ago, he did not know what to think.

“At first I thought they had sent it to the wrong place,” Hardy said.

No one at Broome High School, which has the Centurions as its mascot, had heard of the Santa Clarita Valley school, Hardy said.

“My second thought was maybe they’d sent it to the wrong Centurions,” Hardy said.

The package was actually put together by Saugus faculty, staff and students as a way to show support and appreciation for a school on the other side of the country, Bolde said.

In the same spirit as its sister school in Massachusetts, Saugus High School officials set out to identify a school they could send a package to.

“You never know if something is going to be passed on,” Lavoie said. “But it’s nice knowing that it’s had a positive impact on some folks.”

Of course, the fact that Broome High School has the same mascot as Saugus made them an appealing candidate, Bolde said.

“We thought it would be more impactful to choose a school that was out of the state,” Bolde said. “So we came up with the idea to choose a school that had the same mascot that we did.”

Bolde said the Saugus High School package contained items imprinted with the Centurion logo, as well as personalized notes written by students to the staff and faculty members at Broome High School.

Hardy said it was these notes that had the biggest impact at his school.

“It was great,” Hardy said. “It uplifted a lot of spirits around here.”

Hardy said Broome High School students and faculty members are also looking for other schools with the Centurion mascot to send their own care package to.

“As a result of this, we’ve got some new friends on the West Coast and we’re in the process of paying it forward to our fellow Centurions out there,” Hardy said.

Bolde said Saugus High School hopes to send out similar packages annually.

“So many people worry about what kind of stuff they have,” Bolde said. “Instead, we want our students to know the real winners in life are those that understand it’s not how much you can get but how much you can give that makes a difference in this world.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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