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Franklin High opens for fall with 50% more students

by: David F. Ashton Hundreds of newly-minted Franklin High freshmen await the start of their first school assembly.

As we walked down the line of students waiting to enter Benjamin Franklin High School's gymnasium at the start of their freshman year, we saw that most of the faces showed emotions ranging from excited to nervous, as they were about to make the transition from being grade or middle school kids.

But, another large body of students coming to Franklin High, also on September 6, was already familiar with the ways of high school. These sophomores, juniors, and seniors comprised most of the hundreds of students forced to transfer from the now-shuttered Marshall Campus.

A former student of Renaissance Arts Academy at Marshall Campus, Sierra Brambila, smiled bravely as she talked with Portland Mayor Sam Adams, and a group of reporters, during her first morning on Franklin's campus.

'I'm excited and kind of nervous,' Brambila began, 'as I start off the new year in a whole new school.'

Her ride to the school on the #71 TriMet bus was packed, she said. 'It was unbelievably crowded. I'm wondering how all these people can be on time for school! Sometimes, if the bus gets too packed, the bus driver tells them to wait for the next bus - a bus that may not come for another 20 minutes.'

Even though many of Franklin High's nearly 500 new students are transfers from Marshall, this wasn't a comforting fact for Brambila. 'There are a lot of Marshall kids who will be here, but not from my 'school'. I went to Renaissance Arts Academy; and most of the kids here went to BizTech Academy.'

Brambila watched, as the freshmen filed into the gym for their 'welcoming assembly' at 8:15 am, and wondered how it would go when transferring students got their orientation at 11:45 am that morning. 'I really think it will be OK,' she said. 'I'm glad that Amber McGill, our SUN School coordinator, is coming to Franklin to lead the Marshall program that they moved here.'

In addition to the SUN School program, we also learned that the Multnomah County School Based Health Center was also packed up and moved over to Franklin High.

'My advice for kids coming from Marshall is to try to love Franklin, try to get involved,' Brambila said. 'I'm excited to take all of my classes, and meet new people. And I'm also excited to reconnect with my Marshall friends.'

About 500 more students will be attending Franklin High than did last year, confirmed Portland Public Schools (PPS) Public Information Officer Matthew Shelby. 'This is due both to students transferring in from Marshall, and also to incoming freshmen from the former Marshall Campus catchment area.'

Franklin's student enrollment was 1,036 last year, Shelby observed - meaning the school's student population has now swelled by nearly 50% over the summer. 'And about 300 other Marshall students transferred to Madison High.'

We followed Portland Mayor Sam Adams and PPS Superintendent Carole Smith into Franklin's gymnasium, where freshmen were enthusiastically welcomed by members of the Franklin 'Link Crew' - upperclassmen dedicated to helping freshmen and newcomers succeed.

Adams smiled as he saw the reception given to new students, and applauded along with members of the Link Crew.

'Here at Franklin it's really important that we make every freshman, and all of the transferring students, feel really welcome,' Adams told us. 'We want them to be successful in making this move, and starting school this year.'

PPS Superintendent Carole Smith smiled, 'The first day of school is always exciting. This school, in particular, is a great place to be this morning, as we're welcoming in the freshmen.'

In addition to the ninth-graders coming in from the Franklin catchment middle schools, Smith said, 'We're also welcoming the former Marshall High School students as they join the Franklin community today.'