A Unity of Community banner at Saugus High School. Unity of Community was part of last week’s “Wellness Week” to promote mental health.

Eloy Valentine, a bus driver for the William S. Hart School District, saw the impact of the shooting at Saugus High School firsthand as a driver that was at the scene.

“It’s just that snap of a finger…this wave you can’t really control,” described Valentine. “You just kind of wonder if you are going to be OK because you’re in the middle of this.”

The Hart District has just finished its first “Wellness Week,” ending with a remembrance of the shooting this past Saturday called “Unity of Community,” a virtual event with speakers and music to bring the city together during a stressful year. 

Santa Clarita and the Hart District will continue to make the well-being of their children a priority for the near future. 

“I think that’s an important element…the whole student, not just reading, writing, arithmetic, but educating the whole student,” said district public relations officer Dave Caldwell.

On Nov. 19, 2019, Saugus High School was the center of a shooting that left Santa Clarita and the country in pain. One year later, Caldwell discussed how the district has made the mental health of their students and staff a priority.

Gracie Muehlberger (left) and Dominic Blackwell were two victims of last year’s Saugus High shooting.

“Several years ago…the district started to hire psychologists and right now…we have approximately 50 therapists, roughly half of them are licensed and the other half are in the process of getting their license,” said Caldwell. “Our governing board recognized…that student mental health was becoming a greater concern and needed to be addressed.”

In addition to therapists being on campuses, the Hart District has opened wellness rooms for de-stressing purposes, a “warm” line that can be called for emotional support from a counselor, and several online videos and guides on how to be physically and mentally healthy. 

Although the process had begun as early as August of 2019, the Hart District “hit the ground running” on mental health changes after the Saugus shooting.

“As a result of the shooting from November 14th and with help from the community, just about every single one of our campuses now has a wellness room,” said Caldwell. 

The Hart District’s Wellness website. The website is home to a litany of resources that are free for students and staff to use at their convenience.
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