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Group Seeks To Renew Lost Youth Plaque
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An idea for a plaque to memorialize Oakdale’s “Lost Youth” originated in 1990 by families who had grieved the loss of their own children and wanted to memorialize all the young people in the area who had passed so they would not be forgotten.The plaque lists the names of young people in the Oakdale school district — Oakdale, Valley Home, Knights Ferry, and Waterford areas — who had lost their life, for any reason, before the age of 26.Oakdale residents Shannon Trent, Jackie Rankin, and Shirley Watson, who have been involved since its inception, are trying to revitalize the purpose behind the plaque. The people who had come together originally to fundraise and garner non-profit status for the memorial plaque eventually began to drift from the project but are renewing their commitment to it.“We just want to get it up and running again,” Trent said. “It’s important to us.”The plaque, however, is large and heavy at 36 x 48 inches, which makes it fairly difficult to move. It has been displayed at different businesses and at the junior high school. It’s currently being housed at Oakdale High School but a permanent home is being sought for it.Trent and Rankin said that there are approximately 100 names of young people on the plaque, and that it’s not morbid, but a way to acknowledge and remember the lives of the young people of the community who died young.“It’s just about our community, our youth,” Trent said.Rankin said that when her brother and another young man died in separate incidents on the same day in 1990, it was a blow to the community and there was no place for all of the friends and family to come together. The idea for the plaque grew out of that and having a place to house it permanently, Rankin said, would offer that place for people to gather.“It’s for the kids and community…to be able to have a mutual place to come and mourn,” she said, adding that she didn’t feel a cemetery would be the right place for the plaque but that a park would be more a comfortable place for people to gather whenever they felt the need.Oakdale Joint Unified School District administrator Marc Malone said that he first became involved with the plaque when he was asked to house the plaque at the junior high when he was the principal there. Now that the plaque is at the high school, he said, perhaps the leadership students can incorporate it into their programs while it’s there.“It is our hope that the (Associated Student Body) at OHS will be interested in promoting this plaque and concept through their efforts on educating our students on the dangers of drinking and driving,” Malone said. “The ‘Every 15 Minutes’ program or something similar would be a great time to make people aware of the plaque. It is a good concept and a good project.”Malone pointed out that the plaque includes names of youth who have died from various types of accidents, not just alcohol-related accidents, as well as illnesses, but that the ‘Every 15 Minutes’ angle is one way to tie it to the school.Rankin said that one of the goals of the group behind the plaque is also to be of support to other people who’ve lost loved ones who were still in their youth. She noted that none of them are trained counselors but they’ve gone through such losses and would be of support.For anyone interested in donating to the fund, having a name added to the plaque, or becoming involved in the board, contact Jackie Rankin at (209) 847-7438 or Shannon Trent at (209) 840-0949.