Principal Vince Ferry received an award Thursday for his work and contribution to the victims and survivors of the Saugus High School shooting on Nov. 14, 2019, when a student killed two classmates and wounded three others before fatally shooting himself.
Each year in recognition of Victim Rights’ Week in April, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Victim Services recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a significant difference and impact in the lives of victims of crime.
“I’ll take the award, but only on behalf of the whole Saugus community because … to me, this award just demonstrates the strength of our community that’s willing to say, ‘I need help, and I need support,’” Ferry said. “I’m so grateful for our community. … Our recovery is still underway, and I am confident we’re gonna get back, especially with the help of (the BVS).”
It was Nadine Teter, a victims service representative with the BVS who spent the weeks and months following the shooting working with Ferry to provide Saugus families and staff the resources and referrals, who nominated Ferry for the honor. .
“Imagine for a moment being responsible for over 2,500 students, imagine being responsible for 164 staff, and then your biggest nightmare becomes a reality,” Teter said. “Ferry found himself in the position of leading thousands of students … and staff members through a horrific tragedy. Mr. Ferry rose to a level that many cannot and will not understand, with no playbook or roadmap to follow.”
Teter went on to highlight some of the steps Ferry took in the moments following the shooting and through the next year to allow his community to begin the healing process and receive professional help.
“Despite how long and sometimes difficult the road is going to be, Mr. Vincent Ferry will continue to push his school and the community forward,” Teter added. “He has consistently shown love, compassion, insight, vulnerability and wisdom beyond his years. His strength, courage and ability to lead is admirable.”
While typically honored in a special ceremony in April in front of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, this year’s pandemic postponed the presentation, something Ferry said made the award come at the “perfect time.”
“I think the timing of this award is perfect, as we go into the holidays, just to remind families that we do have support and services out there available to them,” he said. “Go and take advantage of them. We want to help.”
Looking back on the past year, Ferry said it’s really the BVS who have been instrumental in allowing the Saugus community to heal.
“You look at the gravity of what the situation is and was, and you’re just in this fog,” Ferry added. “Then you’ve got (the BVS) that comes in and says, ‘Hey we have these services available to your staff, your kids and their families,’ and then it all just started making sense, you start feeling more confident. … I didn’t know what (the BVS) was before this, and unfortunately, I do now, but I just appreciate the services they provide so much, and it helps keep our community so strong.”