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An inspirational celebration

Gresham parent organizes end-of-the-school-year party combining music and education


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Guitarist Jennifer Batten toured the world with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck. On June 14, she will perform her Michael Jackson Tribute Show and speak to Gresham area elementary and middle school students.

A Gresham parent dreamed big about what an end-of-the-school-year party for students could be.

That dream is about to become a reality, complete with a world-class rock star.

Jesse Schmunk is organizing a special celebration to honor Gresham area elementary and middle school students from 6-9:30 p.m. Friday, June 14.

The evening will feature food, activities, recognition and a performance by guitarist Jennifer Batten, who toured the world with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck.

“This event is intended to encourage, inspire, challenge, educate and entertain,” Schmunk said. “The entertainment part is wonderful, but it’s the frosting. We want to focus on character education.”

Schmunk believes strongly in the Frederick Douglass quote, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Along with performing her Michael Jackson Multimedia Tribute Show, Batten will speak to kids about following their dreams and treating each other with courtesy and respect.

As a longtime fan of Batten and the father of a young daughter, Schmunk thought the guitarist was a prime example of someone who had achieved success and would make a strong role model for girls.

He wanted to emphasize the significance of music and character education in an event for the whole family.

The celebration will include materials and information from an award-winning educator and New York Times bestselling author, Ron Clark, who heads the Ron Clark Academy.

“As we recognize and appreciate our wonderful children at our school, we remind them that anything that they dream is possible and that the world is cheering them on,” Schmunk said. “Belief comes before success, and we want to build the students’ belief as far as the sky will go.”

The event has no association with Gresham area school districts and will be held at a private venue with a capacity for about 50 students and family members.

Anonymous donations may be made to gofundme.com/school-celebration.

Donations will help with food, beverages and snacks, office supplies, paper and Ron Clark materials.

For more information or to express interest in attending the event, contact Schmunk at 971-221-3242 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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