The sweltering heat, the gallons of lemonade and the hours put in — it was all worth it for two teens who spent their summer raising funds to memorialize the Saugus High School shooting victims. On Thursday, they offered the city of Santa Clarita $6,400 to help jumpstart that process.
Saugus High survivor and sophomore Mia Tretta 15, and senior Derek Diaz, 16, stopped by City Hall to present the check, which was received by Mayor Cameron Smyth and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda.
“This is an amazing representation of Santa Clarita,” said Smyth. “Having Mia and Derek here to present a contribution to the city’s ultimate memorial at Central Park in honor of Dominic (Blackwell) and Gracie (Muehlberger), (the two students killed in the shooting). You hear the stories of courage and heroes and we’re here with two of them today.”
Tretta, who was shot in the lower abdomen and was best friends with Blackwell, and her neighbor Diaz had spent a weekend in July handing out free lemonade to the community, and welcomed donations.
“Derek and I, we put together a lemonade stand and raised $6,433. It was donation only and most people did $1 (bills) and $5 (bills) mainly,” said Tretta. “We’re so happy we were able to donate it and we’re able to do this memorialization at the park where the vigil was and everything.”
With cellphones in their hands to snap a “very proud” moment, Tretta’s and Diaz’s parents said Thursday that their kids’ efforts helped highlight that the community is caring and supportive.
“We thought they’d raise maybe, $100, $75,” said Tracy, Diaz’s mother. “When we pulled up there to bring them some lunch, they had lines of people and it really was this testament to what the mayor said about the community and how people really wanted this.”
Central Park has come to represent a special place following the events of Nov. 14, the day of the shooting, as students, faculty and staff evacuated to the park to reunite with their loved ones and thousands returned on Nov. 17 to grieve the victims.
Smyth said the funds will go toward the buildout of a memorial, which has not yet been decided on as the city is expected to continue meeting with families to finalize the plans.
Last week, the City Council approved appending the name to “Central Park — In Memoriam of Gracie Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell.”