Students pitch in during foundation workday

by: Submitted Photo, Organizers of the first “Community Workday” to benefit the Lake Oswego School District Foundation are, from left, Lake Oswego High School Principal Bruce Plato, LOHS students Karli Prettyman, Liz Schreyer, Molly Maguire, Leila Jada, Rachel Urrutia and LOHS Assistant Principal Cindy Schubert.

Lake Oswego High School students are prepared to get their hands dirty during the district's first 'Community Workday' Friday.

About 200 teens are scheduled to landscape, paint, mow, clean and - or for those who despise dust and mud - organize, type and answer phones to benefit the Lake Oswego School District Foundation's annual donation drive.

They will work a minimum of four hours during the early release day. A salary of $7.80 an hour will go directly to the foundation.

Students sought job assignments from businesses or individuals or were placed with a sponsor of their choosing.

'Our community has been incredible,' said organizer and LOHS Assistant Principal Cindy Schubert. 'I'm getting people saying, 'What a great idea! I'll take four kids or six kids.' They've really stepped up and it's a win-win situation.'

So far, the foundation has raised an estimated $1.7 million toward its $2.2 million goal, according to director Mary Puskas. The annual Phone-a-thon portion of the drive - which involves parents and students calling local residents for donations - wraps up today.

The funds will help maintain the district's teaching staff and reduce class size. The district plans to build back from previous losses and shift their focus from survival to enhancement.

This year, Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools are playing a major role in the fund-raising effort. Lakeridge teens recently completed their own school Phone-a-thon with the assistance of parent volunteers.

Schubert came up with the idea for a 'Community Workday' after spending several years organizing a similar event at Hood River Valley High School, where she worked as a leadership teacher.

She pitched the concept to LOHS Principal Bruce Plato and forwarded it onto a Political Action Seminar class. Later, a group of junior girls in the class - Karli Prettyman, Rachael Urrutia, Leila Jada, Liz Schreyer and Molly Maguire - spent numerous lunch periods recruiting students to work.

Aside from the obvious benefits, there's another student perk. The program fulfills a graduation requirement of two completed four-hour work experience sessions.

'Definitely a lot of kids are doing it because it's good for the school, but I'm sure a lot of kids want to do it for that reason,' Prettyman said.

Some teachers are giving extra credit for participation, she added.

Many of the jobs include yard work, but some are related to a future career field, such as working in medicine or construction.

'I encouraged them to connect with a business they think it will be fun to work at,' Schubert said.

One student will spend the day at a music store. Another will assist a local resident with building a storage shed. A group of 10 will lend a hand at a convention in Portland.

Parents are hiring their kids to tag along at work, while others are getting paid to work at a non-profit organization.

Overall, the program aims to spark an interest in the foundation effort and connect teens with the greater community. LOHS and Lakeridge administrators are discussing a dual-school workday next year.

'Because it is a big project, we wanted to do it right, pilot it and get the kinks out first,' Schubert said.

The PAS group hasn't set a fund-raising goal for its event, but members hope sponsors are inspired to give more than the required minimum wage.

'We haven't even talked about money so far,' Jada said. 'We're just trying to get students to participate and go out into the community.'