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Helen Silvis of The Skanner
Published: 26 September 2007

Jefferson High School will host a conference for students and their families Friday, Oct. 5. Among the guest speakers will be Mayor Potter, PCC Cascade campus President Algie Gatewood and Washington State University Professor Armando Laguardia. Sam Brooks, chair of the Portland Business Alliance Board and the founder of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, will make the keynote speech.
Organized by the youth mentoring nonprofit REAP Inc., the theme of the conference is "As I Rise." It follows a similar Challenge conference earlier this year entitled "I Rise." Last May's conference aimed to end the school year on a positive note, said Mark Jackson REAP Inc. program director. This Challenge – specially designed to meet the needs of students at Jefferson — shifts the focus to how families and community can support highly motivated students.
The conference aims to inspire Jefferson students to excel, Jackson said. The goal is to motivate students to achieve their academic goals and at the same time to build community support to help them reach their maximum potential.
"Jefferson students are saying O.K. Now that you see me rise, what can you in the community do to support me in rising," Jackson said. "The conference is designed to give students a platform to express their commitment to excellence and to ask the community to work with them and help them and support them in becoming excellent students and future leaders."
Students have been key players in organizing the event, said Nate Golden, the REAP Inc. operations director based at Jefferson. "We work with students in planning the conference but it is student-led," he said. "We are the coaches behind the scenes, but the students are the ones pulling it together."
Students have invited Portland City Commissioners, Multnomah County Commissioners and other community leaders to attend.
The program will include workshops, a panel discussion, the keynote address, entertainment and a catered lunch. A student speak out entitled "Inspired to Excel" will help students and families identify existing strengths and map a way forward to help raise student achievement both academically and personally.
PCC Cascade campus President Algie Gatewood and Washington State University Professor Armando Laguardia will lead staff sessions on preparing students for college and working with students in an urban setting to prepare them for academic and life challenges.
"It's about how students at Jefferson can be the best students they can be," Golden said.
Topics under discussion will include discipline, teacher-student relations, academic achievement, race, culture, parent and community contributions, personal development and leadership. Goals for the conference include: providing academic coaching; engaging parents and the community; identifying and affirming personal goals and developing leaders among the student body, parents and the community.
The conference is designed to engage students, school staff, business professionals and community partners in a dialogue that will affirm and empower students to be more successful as lifelong learners and emerging leaders.
Jefferson High School Challenge Day: Friday, Oct. 5 at Jefferson High School, 5210 N. Kerby, Portland, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Conference check-in begins at 8 am.
For more information contact Mark Jackson, REAP Inc. Program Director at 503-341-6161, or email reapinc@msn .com or for school staff call 503-916-5180.

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