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A personal tragedy experienced by one member of an educational program that's dedicated to community service has prompted a blood drive Dec. 5 at Pioneer Valley High School.

Student Aliya Mendez, who is part of AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) 2015 Class, made the decision to help others after a relative had a car accident and the blood type was not available in the Santa Maria Valley.

More than 150 students are part of the PVHS AVID program that requires 50 hours of community service each year. The students are active at Marian Medical Center, churches, libraries and numerous charities.

"I just want to get more people involved in school and help the community,'' Mendez said.

AVID Elective Teacher Brooke Baarstad’s students have nearly completed the huge task of organizing the event from the ground up.

"They have shown a great deal of leadership and discovered how to apply the skills they have learned managing, promoting and soon hosting the event,” Baarstad said.” They will serve many communities in the future.”

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has more than 400 AVID students, who also attend Santa Maria and Ernest Righetti High Schools.

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.