Parkrose Tailgate Party signals start of school

Find out what excitingly unusual event took place, after the dinner was over …

As the Parkrose Tailgate Party gets underway, the District’s School Improvement Director Michael Lopes and Director of Human Resources David McKay greet two guests who walked up minutes apart – Dana Eaton of Pacific Northwest Federal Credit Union; and Gary Drais, a class of 1967 alumnus.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A delightful back-to-school event held by the Parkrose Educational Foundation each year is the annual “Tailgate Party” on the high school grounds. This year, folks from all over Parkrose – and some alums who traveled a considerable distance to attend – converged, as the event got underway on September 6.

This party goes way beyond the concept of serving cold fried chicken and baked beans from the tailgates of pickup trucks. It is, in fact, a full catered dinner!

Assistant to the Superintendent Andrea Stevenson is one of several staffers who serves guests delicious hors d’oeuvres – better than many other events’ main course dinners!

Grilling up a storm are Chartwells Regional Manager John Kugler, and Reynolds School District Food Service Director Alan Seino.

This group of “Bronco Boosters” poses for a group photo!

“This evening is special for a couple of reasons,” exclaimed Parkrose School District Superintendent of Education Dr. Karen Fischer Gray.

“First, it kicks off our 100 Years of Parkrose Education celebration,” Gray told East Portland News. “And, it’s a great way to kick off the school year.”

Welcoming guests to the annual Tailgate Party is Parkrose School District Superintendent of Education Dr. Karen Fischer Gray.

“It also brings people together,” Gray added, “and I’m so impressed that we have so many alumni here. One group is having their 50-year reunion! I think it is special how Parkrose stays in people’s hearts – when they attend the school, they are part of the school for their whole life.”

This party also raises money for the Parkrose Education Foundation, the superintendent observed. “At our Annual Auction in April, we start selling tickets for this fun event.”

Servers for the event, including Ellen Christensen, Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Dorene Buntjer, Sandy Searcy, Rodena Smith, Megan Bishop gather for this photo before dinner.

Guests help themselves to the gourmet dinner offerings at the Bronco Tailgate Party.

Money raised by the foundation “provides some of the things that the school district can no longer afford to provide,” Gray said. “This includes field trips, special programs and activities, sometimes special books and materials, special training for students.”

Some years they’ve sold more tickets than others, but Gray agreed that the 65 who chose to attend this year was about the right size group for the area.

After trays of served appetizers were passed – although one could have easily have made a meal with them alone – the buffet line was opened. Guests served themselves salads, dinner rolls, garlic mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob – along with steaks and chicken, fresh off the grill.

After greeting, and performing for, the evening’s guests, the Parkrose Bronco Cheerleaders gather for a photo.

On their way to the football game, the Parkrose Bronco Cheerleaders and Bronco Band came by, adding pep to the festivities.

After dinner concluded, and guests headed toward the football game, Gray wished, “It sure would be nice, now, if we won our first game of the season. We’ve never won a game after a Tailgate Party.”

Parkrose Bronco Vincent Vy makes a catch

… and heads downfield to score another touchdown for the team.

Gray’s wish came true! In this non-conference game, Coach Mo France led the Parkrose Broncos to a 25-6 win over Jefferson High Democrats.

> On our Front Page: Parkrose High Lead Cook Jema Atwood is ready to deliver desserts to diners at the Bronco Tailgate Party.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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