Commentary: Despite deadly crash, such student trips are essential

Our hearts dropped when we heard the news. A bus carrying low-economic high school students to a college tour in Northern California collided with a truck on Interstate 5. As we waited for more details, we thought about our Save Our Youth (SOY) kids who we sent on a college tour up north during their spring break.

The news was worse than we thought. Numerous dead and plenty more injured.

Although we were happy that our students from Estancia, Costa Mesa and Early College high schools were all safe in their two vans, we were so sad to hear of the deaths of so many kids and young adult chaperons.

These youths, just like our SOY kids who went north to tour colleges, would be the first in their families to go to college. They had hopes and dreams and had already gotten acceptances to Humboldt State University.

What a wonderful opportunity for them to see the college to decide if that was where they would want to go. Who would have dreamed that a special trip like this would end in such tragedy?

Even through the sadness, we reflect on the importance of these special trips for students from low-economic means, so they can have the same opportunity as other youngsters to see the college of their dreams. Without these trips, many students are often unaware of the fabulous universities and colleges available to them, and they are often unsure about whether they should go so far away, even if they have been accepted to a prestigious university, like UC Berkeley, as some of our SOY kids were.

We also think about the people who give back. At each of the universities our SOY students visited, SOY alumni were there to greet them. These college students were giving back by providing tours of their colleges to people kids from their same neighborhood. We thank them.

It is also important to thank the people in our community who donate to organizations like SOY that make these trips possible. The kindness of donors enables low-economic students to have these types of opportunities. Their families thank you as well — families that care about the education of their children but often have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet and can't afford the gas or time off work to make such a trip.

We pray for the Humboldt alumni, as well as the families of the students and chaperones lost in this tragic accident, and we hope that trips like this can continue despite this unfortunate outcome.

MARY and CESAR CAPPELLINI are members of the Save Our Youth (SOY) board.

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