The D9 school board returned to the District building for its May 8 meeting. After three budget forums and meetings in school gymnasiums, the usual room seemed small, especially with the crowd who showed up for a night of contrasts. The evening started positively, as teachers, principals and the school board honored outstanding students and teachers. EPHS Principal Tim Rupp introduced Spanish instructor Sarah Sievert, who talked about Abigail Calvert and her dramatic progress from Spanish I to eventually becoming a peer tutor and the only non-native Spanish speaker in native speaker classes. Sievert added that Abigail led by example and will go far in life. Instructors Richmond Brittany, Matt Boren and Jenny Baldwin heaped praise on Justus Breshears, a highly motivated and innovative young woman they predicted would also go far. Mr. Rupp said all his teachers deserved recognition, but the teachers themselves chose Instructional Coach Mary Nowland. Highlights from the teachers’ comments showed her as compassionate, a problem solver, a teacher/staff advocate, friendly, and helpful. Further, she helped students reach their goals, and with her heart for students their lives were changed.
A group of SkillsUSA students sat on the sidelines, dressed in red blazers and sporting medals that acknowledged their accomplishments. Advisor Matt Boren introduced his group and each spoke of his or her achievements and goals, smiling with the praise and accolades sent their way from the Board and Administration—another group of high achievers in Juspin Bishop, Nicholas Branch, Manuel Fletes-Arochi, Caley Eller, Micaela Saling, Casey Smith, Collin Updegraff, Jorge Hernandez, Zachery Styer, Rachel Gima, and Justus Breshears
Student representatives Micaela Saling and Hunter Hoeptner reported on high school events, such as: Springboard presentations, the annual poetry slam on May 17, a recap of SkillsUSA accomplishments at the state conference, statewide achievement for FFA, and a reminder of choir’s annual Dinner Theater May 17, 18 and 19.
Several citizens took the microphone during the Public Forum, and with strong words and heated emotions, directed concern and criticism toward the school board and administration. Two students addressed concerns about the distribution of funds intended for their class use. One mother, however, praised the district for all it does and for its positive impact on students’ lives.
The meeting then moved forward with the evening’s agenda. Union representative Rick Taylor spoke of the need for reconciliation and harmony on everyone’s part referencing Abraham Lincoln: “Make your enemies into friends, be firm but play nice and take the long view.”
Superintendent Cynda Rickert reminded everyone of her mantra this time of year: “Finish Strong!” Included in her meetings and activities last month were: Hillside Elementary’s first birthday celebration; meetings with potential school board candidates; phone conferences with local legislators to stay apprised of legislative actions and share educational priorities; Portland Job Fair to hire teachers; Thursday site visitations to support teaching and learning.
Eagle Point Boosters will now offer help to groups such as shop, band, and youth leadership, according to Tony Lallo. He told of the many local youth organizations and school activity groups that use the new turf field, and concluding by saying, “We’re here to serve the community and the kids.”
Lydia Tolley, Sodexo Food Services District Manager (she oversees all the district’s school kitchens) presented a $2,000 check from Sodexo to fund scholarships for students seeking careers in the hospitality industry.
Board Chairman officially gaveled the meeting closed, but the buzz of discussion could still be heard around the room and out on the front sidewalk. The next meeting will be June 12 at 6:30 in the District Office Board Room.
By Lynn Leissler
for the Independent