For more than 20 years, the Santa Clarita Valley has celebrated White Ribbon Week in honor of the local teenagers who have lost their lives in vehicular collisions.
Every year prior to graduation ceremonies, Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputies visit local high school senior class assemblies to distribute the white ribbons and cards that list the names of the Santa Clarita Valley youth who were killed as a result of the decision to drive recklessly or impaired during the previous five years.
“The White Ribbon Campaign is all about making good choices,” said Deputy Cheryl Hartman, who passed out ribbons at Hart High School on Monday as students collected their cap and gowns.
“We want to educate students about safe driving and avoiding distractions such as cell phones or driving while impaired,” Hartman told students at the assembly. “We’re asking the students to wear the white ribbon on their graduation gown not only to show respect for those teenagers we’ve lost, but also to remember to make smart choices during graduation time.”
During the assembly, Hartman explained why changing a song on your iPod or sending a text is considered distracted driving. She also shared how fatigue from finals and other festivities can affect a teen’s driving ability.
Local residents have also been encouraged to wear white ribbons to show their support for distracted-free driving in the community. Free white ribbons can be picked up at sponsor locations, such as the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Gift Shop, Frontier Toyota and Santa Clarita City Hall.
The White Ribbon card for the Class of 2006 listed 24 students killed since 2000, according to officials. This year’s list contained the names of seven teens killed since 2013: Sarah Alarid, Albert B. Castro, Collin Gore, Nicole Lynn Hoffman, Madeline “Mads” Rossiter, Wyatt Anthony Savaikie and Jennifer Stift.
“Take a minute and look at the card,” Hartman said. “None of these names had to be on the list. Every one of them had dreams much like yours. Making the best choice doesn’t end when you graduate.”