Portland’s mayor breakfasts with Parkrose tots

See why Mayor Tom Potter visited Parkrose’s Sacramento Elementary School on the first day of school; we’ll even tell you what was on the menu …

Seated with members of Mrs. Steinfeld’s 3rd Grade Class at Sacramento Elementary School, Portland Mayor Tom Potter hears why his tablemates are excited about returning to school.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the school bells rang the day after Labor Day, kids all across East Portland headed back to school.

On the first day at Sacramento Elementary School, in the Parkrose School District, a special visitor came to welcome the school’s 430 students and their parents to the new term – Portland Mayor Tom Potter.

Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray welcomes Mayor Tom Potter and Karin Hansen to the first day of school at Sacramento Elementary School.

Potter welcomed by Parkrose Schools’ Superintendent
Waiting at the school was Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray. “The beginning of the new school year is always an exciting time for us. It’s wonderful to see the kids, and their moms and dads dropping them off at school. Having Mayor Potter here is a real privilege.”

Gray noted that Potter has attended visited Parkrose schools in the past. “It means a lot to have the Mayor here,” she told us. “It means that he has his eyes on outer east Portland, and is paying attention to this area.”

Mayor Potter greets third-grader Jacey in Mrs. Steinfeld’s class.

Potter emphasizes importance of education
“It’s great to be here on the first day of school,” Potter commented as we walked into the school. “Each year I select a different area of Portland to visit and welcome children back to school.”

Asked why he took time to breakfast with outer East Portland youngsters, the Mayor replied, “It’s important for elected officials to get out and show the community that we support education.”

“Civic leaders have a duty to make sure that children succeed”, Potter added. “By coming here this morning, it demonstrates my commitment to the value of providing a good education for all the children in Portland.”

Mayor Potter gets an enthusiastic greeting from Sacramento Elementary School’s principal, Stevie Blakely.

Education to include ballroom dancing
As we checked in with the school’s Principal, Stevie Blakely, we asked if there were any new programs this year at Sacramento Elementary.

“We’re adding a ballroom dancing program,” Blakely told us. “All of our fifth-graders, and their teachers, will be learning to dance.”

Ballroom-style dancing provides multiple benefits, the Principal explained. “First, it’s a good form – perhaps the best way – of exercising your body. And, it also helps exercise your brain. It helps children learn rhythm, math, and counting. Music is all built on mathematics.”

In addition to the dance classes, Blakely said students who so desire can enter a city-wide dance contest, competing against students from four other schools in the city, scheduled for next spring.

Mayor Potter charms his breakfast companions. His Honor dined lightly on honey graham crackers and cold milk.

Focus on fitness
“We’re also involved in a program called Healthy Schools; it’s associated with the Bill Clinton foundation,” Blakeley added. “We’re working on increasing exercise programs and providing health educational awareness to help our students learn how to take care of their bodies, as well as their minds.”

“The school is looking at ways to continue to provide better food choices,” she concluded. “We’re doing our best to curb juvenile diabetes.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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