Last Saturday I watched the Lake Oswego High School Lakers football team romp to the state 6A championship at Jeld-Wen Field. The 47-14 victory capped an undefeated season. I congratulate the Laker players and coach Steve Coury on a tremendous achievement.
While the Lakers' football championship is most meaningful to the team members, we should recognize the broader impacts on the school and the community.
These can be understood by considering the obvious analogy to the success of the University of Oregon Ducks football team. Having played for the national championship last January and by earning an appearance in the Rose Bowl a couple of weeks from now as Pac-12 champions, Ducks football has drawn considerable attention to the university. The school's name and logo receive prominent play in the national media.
All this attention has attracted more applicants to the U of O, producing both record enrollment and freshmen classes with stronger academic credentials. It also has boosted the number of out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition, providing more resources for university programs.
This growth in size and prestige has impacts beyond the campus. With a greater number of bright young people moving to Eugene, more will choose to settle there, increasing the creative activities that will drive future opportunities in that community. Furthermore, these positive impacts ripple outward through Oregon generally.
As a native of Corvallis, my deepest athletic loyalties go to the Oregon State Beavers. But I share the excitement about the Ducks' success because I believe that all Oregonians are benefited by it.
Like the U of O, the Lakers' football success ripples outward. The school's cheer team and band got to perform before a larger audience.
As students rally in support of the team, school pride rises. Students whose talents extend in entirely different directions may be inspired to develop them with greater energy.
These positive impacts extend beyond Lake Oswego High School. One of the challenges facing the community of Lake Oswego is the declining enrollment in its public schools. In response, the district has been forced to close schools. This is one of the hardest decisions a community can make because the local school is often the lifeblood of a neighborhood.
Part of the solution to this challenge is to demonstrate the strength of Lake Oswego schools. With a dramatic athletic success, our high schools show families considering different locations that a home in Lake Oswego is a good investment in the future of their children. With higher enrollment, the school district can keep more schools open and will receive more funding from the state, which is allocated on a per pupil basis.
In celebrating this success, we should generalize its significance. We should make sure students understand that all school activities are valuable and that active participation in something else is more important than being a cheering spectator.
What may be the greatest impact of this football championship is more intangible. Lake Oswego is a community that values excellence in a wide range of endeavors, whether they're played out on soccer fields or on downtown streets as public art. Any great success in one area of endeavor enhances our prospects in others because it creates a culture of excellence.
Greg Macpherson is a resident of Lake Oswego and former state representative for District 38.