Choir teacher reflects on helping students

Saugus High School choir teacher Kaytie Holt receives her award at the Red Cross Hometown Hero recognition ceremony. Courtesy of the Red Cross

One Thursday morning last year, things changed forever for Saugus High School’s choir teacher, as she came to the aid of a student wounded in a shooting that rocked the community. 

As classes were just beginning, gunshots from the quad could be heard in the nearby choir room.

It didn’t take long for choir teacher Kaytie Holt to spring into action. As a few students ran into the room to take shelter, she quickly locked the door and gathered them in her office.

“There were about 40 of us in there,” Holt said in a previous Signal interview. “Once we were in my office with all the lights off, (one of the students) who ran into my room, not a choir student, told me she believed she had been shot.”

Holt said her “flight or fight” immediately kicked in, and she simply did what she was trained to do, using a “Stop the Bleed” kit on one gunshot wound and creating a makeshift compression on another. 

“I did what I believe anyone would have with the cards I was dealt,” she said. 

While three students, including the shooter, died that day, the student Holt treated survived and later joined her choir class.

“She has since moved, but we still keep in touch and have a good relationship,” Holt added in a phone interview Thursday. 

The Lawrence’s stand with Kaytie Holt at the Red Cross Hometown Hero recognition ceremony. Photo courtesy of Raymond Nutt.

Holt later had the opportunity to meet Valencia High School students and sisters Cambria and Maci Lawrence, who’d started the nonprofit organization, Keep the Pressure, and created the “Stop the Bleed” kits just months prior to the shooting.

“They’re just really sweet and really grateful, which makes no sense — I should definitely be grateful to them,” she said.

Earlier this week, Holt and the Lawrence sisters were honored as Hometown Heroes by the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.

Uncomfortable being labeled a “hero” for her actions, Holt continues to praise her peers who also played significant roles that day, thanking them for their support.

“There are a few teachers who did what I did, as well, who have not really been in the spotlight and I … speak a million praises of them,” she said. “They’ve done so much for me, too, because they’ve been teaching longer than I have, just being there for me as someone to relate to or give me a call. It’s just a really supportive atmosphere at Saugus.” 

Hart District governing board member Dr. Cherise Moore hugs Saugus High School teacher Kaytie Holt after she was recognized along with other staff members and students for their courageous actions during last year’s shooting. February 05, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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