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Preserving their Destinies
How the Tribute to the Class of 2020 Came to Be
June, 2020 - Issue #189
"I am DEEPLY INSPIRED by the resilient, talented and driven seniors across the Santa Clarita Valley. As they graduate, their legacy is marked by their convictions and perseverance. I have heard countless stories of strength and hope from the Class of 2020, and I know they will continue to make a profound difference in this community for years to come."
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Fifth District
For Santa Clarita students, the 2019-2020 academic school year has been one of life-defining challenges and triumphs. In addition to their regular studies, extracurriculars and college prep, our students also learned to persevere through wildfires, evacuations, a devastating campus shooting and a global pandemic that changed the entire educational system on a dime. After a year when our students overcame more than ever, they deserve a celebration commensurate of their strength, courage and achievements. That's exactly why Inside SCV Magazine wanted to do something extra special for the Class of 2020.
"The way I see it , if you have the resources, you have an obligation to use them for good," said Inside SCV Publisher Jeanna Crawford. "What our students have gone through has weighed on my heart. I wanted them to have something tangible that celebrated all they had accomplished."
Amid the chaos, Crawford dreamed of a book with all the graduates' names printed - a beautiful memento for the Class of 2020 and their families. Just like that, the dream took hold in her heart.
"I reached out to local principals, but they were juggling so much," Crawford said. "I knew if I wanted this to happen, I'd need to take another angle. That's when my friend and public relations guru, Teresa Todd of Point of View Communications, ignited a fresh fire with her passion and connections."
Quickly, a sample layout was created. But unfortunately, it would prove to be out of budget for the district. Todd then asked the magical question: "What if we could get this sponsored?"
Immediately, the two women got to work.
"Through the efforts of Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Todd, sponsors came forward to help because they care about our high school seniors," said Mike Kuhlman, Superintendent of William S. Hart Union High School District. "I am continuously amazed by the generosity of the people in our valley."
And that sense of generosity was contagious, across the local business community every time Crawford and Todd picked up a phone.
"I have always known there is a Santa Clarita standard that sets us apart," Todd said. "We celebrate all that is good and come together to support each other when things get tough. It's just one of the many reasons I'm grateful to live, work and volunteer in my forever town."
And Crawford found a way to contribute to that special SCV-style generosity with her own form of giving. "People will always be more important than the bottom line, which is why doing this project at cost was a no-brainer," she explained. "It's why we didn't have to look hard for people who wanted to help - they say to look for the helpers and that we did!"
Dear friend and education advocate Patti Rasmussen was the next helper to be tagged in for this special project, and the three women were off and running.
"As a reporter, I covered high school graduations every year," said Patti Rasmussen. "I knew how special that day was, and how the graduates were looking forward to putting on that cap and gown and smiling for their family. They still need that in some way, so it was our pleasure to help make this special edition a reality."
With the Inside SCV staff working safer at home, it was clear there was no way to do two separate publications to the level of precision and excellence our readers associate with Inside SCV. So Crawford kept looking for the helpers.
"Melinda Welch of WeKreative Co. is a creative genius and giving soul," Crawford said. "Melinda and her talented team donated their services to assist with design."
Of course, she was happy to help: "When Jeanna called and told me about this tribute publication for the Class of 2020, I knew my team and I wanted to design it. I have a daughter at Hart, so this is very personal to me. We all see this as a once-in-a-lifetime need that we had to fill for our graduates."
And just like that, they had an inspired creative team ready to create a tribute publication with nothing but donated time, money and community spirit. Yet they still had no idea how much this idea would inspire the rest of the Santa Clarita Valley business community.

"THE GRACIOUSNESS and understanding that the Class of 2020 has demonstrated is impressive, considering the circumstances they are facing. I want to let all of you know how proud we are of your achievements.
Your future is bright, and we wish you all the best in your upcoming endeavors!"
Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth
True Business Leadership
Quickly, Crawford and Todd started reaching out to the local businesses they know and love. As suspected, the support was instant and overwhelming. "I think many community business owners want our teens to know that we love them and are proud of how they have handled themselves - with maturity and grace beyond their years," said Michele Mittelman of Preferred Glass & Windows.
Tamara Gurney of Mission Valley Bank also cherished the chance to show her support: "The opportunity to momentarily step away from the challenges of our time and pay tribute to the very deserving Class of 2020 is priceless! We're sending our highest regards for all future successes, and there will be many."
And Greg Schamus of Blinds & Shutters of all Kinds expressed empathy for the challenges both our students and parents are facing. "Every parent wants our children's lives to be safe, happy and calm," Schamus explained. "But today feels so out of our control. To the parents, community and country who have all stepped up for our graduates, I know they feel the love!"
But what business leaders recognized most of all was the community-first attitude that permeates today's graduating class. "It's obvious that 2020's grads are a tight-knit group who really have each other's backs," said Norb Moniz of A Royal Suite Home Furnishings. "We should all take a note out of their playbook."
Kathy Watterson of RE/MAX of Santa Clarita remarked on the rarity of such a connection: "This community is so unique and really vibrates with a warm sense of interconnectedness that's incredibly hard to find. When people ask me what it's like to live in the SCV, I always share the remarkable sense of community."
Don and Cheri Fleming of Valencia Acura also recognized the need to support such a well-deserving class of students. "Don and I are so excited to wish the Class of 2020 a big congratulations!", said Cheri Fleming. "This group of students continues to wow us. They are smart, creative, kind and really engaged in community efforts. We know they're going to accomplish wonderful things!" And Don agreed: "The Valencia Auto Center takes great pride in our community and in the milestones of our young people. We're all in this together! Our hope is for the Class of 2020 to realize just how much their hometown cares about them."
It seems, all our community truly wants for our kids is a moment where they feel adequately honored and loved.
"I hope the Class of 2020 remembers how their parents, families and community came together to make their graduation special - if not entirely different than what everyone planned," said Darcey Oldhafer of Intertex Property Advisors. "We love you, Class of 2020!"
Rest assured, business leaders, these incredible kids know how much this community cares about them.

"THE CLASS OF 2020 in Santa Clarita has faced adversity with strength, unity and a spirit that will never be broken. We are proud of the role models they have already become and look forward to watching them write the next chapter in their life's story."
Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin
Alive with Parental Pride
Many of the business leaders reached out to were also parents of local seniors, and with equal measures of pain and pride, they witnessed their students' resilience firsthand. As parents, they mourned an easier path for their kids, but they also recognized the incredible growth that resulted. "It's hard to imagine my daughter and her classmates entering the world during such uncertainty," said Dave Rendall of RE/MAX of Santa Clarita, Valencia and Gateway. "Comfort comes in the awareness that our schools, community culture and organizations have done an excellent job cultivating the tools they need to adapt and thrive."
Another local dad, Chris Angelo of Stay Green, agreed: "As my son graduates, I'm filled with all the normal, expected emotions of pride and joy - mixed with a twinge of sadness - but not much else is normal. Change and delays are hard. These kids are strong, and what they're experiencing now is preparing them for a bright future."
Local mom Jennifer Puleo of Shield Healthcare knows all too well the challenges her daughter will be facing, but still, she is filled with hope. "As my daughter prepares to enter the healthcare workforce, I'm filled with pride but nervous, too. Yet there's a confidence that comes with being part of the Class of 2020 - a sense that they're ready for anything and they've got this!"
And that's something worth celebrating with a little more fanfare than usual, says parent Tom Reid of Thomas Pools. "As the father of a 2020 grad, I've seen firsthand the challenges our SCV seniors have overcome. They deserve every bit of care and congratulations we can give them."
It seems the entire community agrees: "This class of young adults is resilient, courageous, compassionate and nothing short of extraordinary. We have seen the strength of these students firsthand," says Susan Owen of Owen, Patterson & Owen. "Class of 2020, we are so very proud of you and cannot wait to see you go out and be amazing!"

A Dose of Inspiration
The truly amazing part about this anything-but-typical graduating class is that they've inspired our community's leaders just as much as our leaders have inspired the next generation. The sentiment is unanimous: We've all learned a little something from the Class of 2020, and we hope to return that inspiration in any dose we can.
"This graduating class really shines," said Wayne Crawford of Santa Clarita Concrete. "They've given up so much with little complaint and have gone above and beyond to make great memories under trying conditions. They have taught us a beautiful lesson."
With some experience as a local grad, Sami Kretz of Scorpion agreed: "When I graduated Canyon High School years ago, I would never have guessed that my alma mater would transition to online education amidst a pandemic. I'm in awe of what our teachers, administrators and students have accomplished."
One local business leader even compared the 2020 graduating class' hard work to his incredibly difficult industry. "We are aerospace manufacturers, and just as space is a challenge, so was the year these students have endured," said Steve Wooten of Forrest Machining Inc. "We wish the seniors well and look forward to the many successes these students will have."
And it's been deeply inspiring to watch students not only keep up with the changes, but also thrive despite them. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going," said Joel Moss of Paul Davis Restoration of Santa Clarita. "Our young people are grocery shopping for seniors, checking in on each other, helping younger siblings with distance learning, making hospital masks, and more. That kind of initiative is going to serve them well."
Everyone seems to agree, the Class of 2020 has made lemonade, and they are better for it. "Adversity has proven to shape great leaders and compassionate community members," said Richard Sandnes of The Sandnes Family Foundation. "Looking back, it will be the class of 2020's experiences today that help them make better decisions for all tomorrow."
Some would even say this is a class of champions. "To the graduates: Even though you can't walk this year, don't ever consider yourself a victim. High school graduation is just the beginning of what lies ahead. Go out, take chances and embrace life," said Charlie Rasmussen of C.A. Rasmussen, Inc. But few could sum it up as succinctly as Larry Rasmussen of Spirit Properties: "Job well done - and congratulations!"

"I BELIEVE THAT if our body of work during these times isn't the best work of our lives, we didn't do it right. When we rise to the occasion, we lift others up, too."
Jeanna Crawford, Publisher Inside SCV Magazine

In Awe & Gratitude
But there's one last thank you, one final note of admiration, we need to send out to the entire community, on behalf of Inside SCV and all the advertisers, community partners and readers who support this incredible valley.
"I will never forget how it felt, looking at my phone, feeling my fingers still on fire after 40 minutes of palpable texting and dialing," Crawford said as she reflected on the time spent raising funds for this special tribute publication. "In less than an hour, we were 100 percent sponsored. In the midst of a pandemic, 24 community leaders and business owners said 'yes' to celebrating the Class of 2020 in the very public way they deserve. And I will never forget that feeling of pure awe and gratitude. Thank you to everyone who helped us make this happen."
And it was that one-of-a-kind Santa Clarita community spirit that drove the team at Inside SCV to do their best work, too.
"I believe that if our body of work during these times isn't the best work of our lives, we didn't do it right," Crawford continued. "When we rise to the occasion, we lift others up, too."
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