During White Ribbon Week, safety is everything
A hush befell the graduating seniors at Canyon High School as they sat in the school gymnasium Monday, June 4 and listened intently to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Arnold as he recounted his drive safe message to the school’s graduating class last year.
Speaking from the heart, he looked around at the nearly 600 seniors in the gym and recalled the loss of Canyon High School student Lissette Cortez only days after his talk with Canyon High School’s seniors last year as part of the annual White Ribbon Campaign in the Santa Clarita Valley to encourage responsible driving among teens prior to graduation.
“It breaks my heart when I give a speech about driving safe and it doesn’t work,” Arnold said. “Three days after my talk at Canyon High School last year, we lost someone. Right now, all of you are on the brink of a great life. When you graduate, everyone wants to celebrate, and that’s a good thing. But please do it responsibly and don’t get into a car with someone who’s been drinking, someone who is racing or someone driving while fatigued.”
During White Ribbon Week (June 3-10), Arnold’s words of caution will be heard at Santa Clarita Valley’s high school senior class assemblies. His visits will also include the distribution of white ribbons attached to cards listing the names of Santa Clarita Valley youth ages 14 to 20 killed in traffic collisions in the past five years. The seniors will be asked to wear the ribbons during their graduation ceremonies in memory of those who have lost their lives in car collisions. The ribbons also provide a drive safe message in hopes of preventing any further traffic collisions.
The White Ribbon Campaign is a part of the Drive Safe Program, initiated by Frontier Toyota with the assistance of several community organizations including Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, Safe Rides and The Signal Newspaper.
Canyon High School Assistant Principal Jan Hayes-Rennels said the drive safe message is emphasized before graduation to remind students not to place their bright futures at risk.
“At this time of the year, we especially want all of our students to be extremely careful so they can make it through their senior and graduation activities safely,” Hayes-Rennels said.
Canyon High School Student Body President and Henry Mayo volunteer Lauren Freeman, 18, reiterated the importance of safe driving during graduation week.
“We all have so much potential, and in a matter of seconds, that can be changed,” Freeman said. “Graduation is supposed to be a new beginning, not an ending.”
Arnold ended his talk with Canyon High School’s graduating class with a poignant message.
“You are the future, not only of this community, but the future of our country,” Arnold said. “Don’t become one of the statistics, it’s not worth it.”
Local residents who wish to participate and join in the Drive Safe team’s efforts can pick up white ribbons at Frontier Toyota, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital gift shop and The Signal.
For more information about the White Ribbon Campaign, please contact the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation at (661) 253-8082.