Valencia High students leave surprise for Centurions

Saugus High School students Sophia Sinagra, left, Maria Ciccone, middle, and Sophia Perez, right, look at personalized messages written on the back of paper snowflakes taped to a wall on their campus Friday afternoon. February 28, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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Students from Valencia High School gathered the last few weeks to put together a surprise for Saugus High School students.

Saugus High students came to school this past Friday to find their names of more than 2,800 Saugus students and staff, along with a positive message, handwritten on individual snowflakes that were taped around the school.

Valencia High School students, event organizer Ryan Liljedahl, left, Jamie Araki and facilitator Nicole Wertz organize supplies for Valencia High School volunteers in the Valencia High School multipurpose building who will create 2800 “snowflakes” on Wednesday for Saugus High School students returning to school after winter break, January 08, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

The idea of the surprise came from Valencia High senior Ryan Liljedahl, when he said the school’s ASB did something similar when students returned after summer vacation.

“It sounds cliche, but I really love to help people,” Liljedahl said. “The students at Saugus went through something horrible and nothing can take that pain they feel away, but I hope this can bring them a smile and sense of happiness.”

Saugus High School students Austin Hintz, left, and Aidan Dunnahoo, right, look at personalized messages written on the back of paper snowflakes taped to a wall on their campus Friday afternoon. February 28, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Lilijedahl worked along with Valencia High teachers and Saugus High Principal Vince Ferry to organize this surprise while also keeping it a secret since the week before students came back from winter break.

Saugus High School students Katie Thanaet and Aidan Dunnahoo look at personalized messages written on the back of paper snowflakes taped to a wall on their campus Friday afternoon. February 28, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Valencia High teacher Nicole Wertz was one of the staff members to be involved with the surprise. She said her younger sister attends Saugus High, so she thought this would be a great way to welcome students back.

“It’s so nice seeing the kids come volunteer to do this on their break,” Wertz said. “We’re Valencia students but it shows how the students here care about others.”

Valencia High School Junior Tori Batchar creates some of the 2800 Saugus High School “snowflakes” on Wednesday in the Valencia High School multipurpose room, for Saugus High School students returning to school after winter break, January 08, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

One volunteer, freshman at Valencia High School, Gowri Jamadaghi, said she volunteered because she knows some people who attend Saugus High School.

“Hopefully, this is something that can make them feel safe and know they’re being thought of,” she said.

Saugus High School students Katie Thanaet and Aidan Dunnahoo look at personalized messages written on the back of paper snowflakes taped to a wall on their campus Friday afternoon. February 28, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Another volunteer, freshman Alexis Regino said she wanted to do something positive for others.

When asked about keeping this project a secret, Liljedhal said, “It’s been a little difficult, I think there’s two or three students who know, but I hope it stays a surprise for everyone else.”

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