Recent vandalism attacks at two high schools in the Hart district have planted a seed of activism among Valencia High students.
At least a dozen campus buildings at Saugus High School were defaced with graffiti early Monday morning, and in the Monday prior, four students allegedly entered Valencia High School’s Memorial Garden to cut three adult trees down as a prank, including one tree that was planted by a memorial plaque honoring “Fallen Vikings,” a reference to past Valencia students who have died.
“I’m not 100 percent sure if it was a senior prank,” Valencia senior Isabella Rodriguez said, “but I’ve lost all respect for anybody who thought this would be a good idea.”
The plaque that was placed at the foot of one of the trees, which is now a stump, is dated back to April 20, 1999, and reads: “The students, staff and parents of Valencia High School do early dedicate this memorial garden to the memory of Fallen Vikings, past, present and future.”
Neither of the two acts were considered to be hate crimes by detectives, but students and teachers alike remain stunned by the senseless acts.
In response to the recent vandalism on-campus and attacks across the nation, dozens of Valencia High students gathered on Wednesday to take action and give back, Rodriguez said. “We think it was really terrible that they had to cut down a tree that served as a memorial,” and the group didn’t want to just stand around doing nothing.
“In response to destructive behaviour on our campus, we’re going seeds to trees here,” teacher Janet Feeder said, as she described her pride for the students who are choosing to make a difference in their community.
Feeder donated dirt, recycled pots and more than 60 types of tree seeds, which are all native to California, after a group of students approached her with an idea to replace the fallen trees.
“They knew we could do something,” Feeder said, “even if it was one little thing.”
The entire process was student organized, Feeder said, and the plan is to foster the seeds over the summer before we transplant them in the fall.
“This is an action of positive energy that can’t be measured,” she added. “I’m just happy to be part of the process.”