David Douglas’ alternative high school offers community options

Why did folks from dozens of community resource groups show up at Fir Ridge Campus a few weeks ago? Find out about their Community Resource Fair, right here …

Kim Anderson, School-to-Work Coordinator at Fir Ridge, and School Counselor Catherine Nyhan welcome students and their families to the Resource Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
An annual event that grows in popularity each year is the Community Resource Fair put on by the Fir Ridge Campus in the David Douglas School District. This year marked the sixth time they held the event.

“This is the alternative high school in our district,” explained School-to-Work Coordinator Kim Anderson, the event’s coordinator. “Our students do better here, because of the way we structure the high school curriculum and environment.”

Representatives from about 60 community resource organizations attended the fair to speak with students and their families, Anderson said. “In addition to our exhibiters, we also have workshops to help families learn how to become home buyers, and workshops for students to learn more about personal finance.”

Robin Benedict, a community resource coordinator with the Department of Human Services, State of Oregon, tells an attendee about the many ways DHS helps families in outer East Portland.

Intellectual scavenger hunt
Students were encouraged to talk with as many representatives as they could, Ron Knight, Director of the Fir Ridge Campus, told us. “Students got a list of questions they need to get answered. They go around and check with the different booths to find out the answers to those questions. It’s kind of an intellectual scavenger hunt.”

The event is important on several levels, Knight added.

“In addition to giving students and their families ready access to information,” Knight said, “it provides our students with a valuable opportunity to interact with adults they don’t know, in a positive way. We coach them on how to introduce themselves, and how to ask questions appropriately. And, they can learn more about opportunities for youth employment.”

An added benefit, Knight pointed out, was that the Resource Fair gives providers a good opportunity to network and meet each other.

Mark White, Chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association, and Arline Kimura, Chair of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association, tell why it’s important for people to be involved in their neighborhoods.

Meeting your neighbors
At one of the many tables at the fair were two neighborhood association Chairs – Mark White, from Powellhurst-Gilbert, and Arline Kimura, from Hazelwood. They said they were on hand to promote all thirteen of the East Portland Neighborhood Organization neighborhoods in their coalition.

“Getting involved, on the neighborhood level, is a great way to start learning how to improve your area of the City,” White commented.

“It’s important for young people to know why city’s neighborhoods are an important resource,” Kimura added. “Some of these kids will eventually become our neighbors! As future citizens, they need to how we help build stronger communities.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News.

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