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Barbecue's an LOJ tradition

Families flock to annual event at junior high

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTOS: JILLIAN DALEY - At the Lake Oswego Junior High barbecue,  2-year-old Matthew Duhl gets an impromptu face washing from cousin Aiden Duhl, left, and brother Nathan.Imagine a barbecue for hundreds of middle schoolers, and then picture it on a sunny day with the kids’ families and teachers on the scene.

That’s about how the annual barbecue at Lake Oswego Junior High looked last Friday. Some families roamed indoors to check out the classrooms, walking past a “Welcome 6th Graders!” sign, while others enjoyed some divine-smelling hamburgers and cookies, which occasionally got messy in the hands of the smallest guests.

Sixth-grader Aiden Duhl, a football player, at one point had to kneel down and wipe some smudges off of his toddler cousin Matthew Duhl’s face. Aiden and his cousin both were covered in sunshine, something Aiden said is scarce where he comes from. “It’s not like Michigan,” he said.

Little Matthew (born Dec. 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.) also got help from his brother, Nathan, during the face cleaning project. Nathan, though an Oak Creek fifth-grader, long has attended the barbecue since his older brother attended LOJ.

“I like going here to see all my friends,” he said.

Forest Hills fifth-grader Rylee Winn also was enjoying herself. “I like the cookies,” she said.Lucas Gan holds 3-year-old daughter Amanda while his wife, Astina Liang, beams, and their older daughter, Helen Gan, prepares herself for her eighth-grade year at Lake Oswego Junior High.

LOJ eighth-grader Helen Gan, whose family is originally from China, said through her mom, who translated, that she loves her teachers and classmates. The family had been to other places in America, but they found a home in Lake Oswego.

“When we arrived here, we found we love this place, very beautiful and quiet and peaceful,” said Astina Liang, Helen’s mom.

Teacher Jenna Blancher cuddles her 9-month-old baby, Lucy, while Vice Principal Desiree Fisher and teacher Kristin Allan talk.The junior high’s administrators and teachers said they enjoyed the food and company, too, with teachers Jenna Blancher and Kristin Allan keeping up their barbecue tradition.

“This is our ninth picnic together,” Blancher said. Allan said she loves the “sense of community.”

Vice Principal Desiree Fisher said it’s something everyone comes to. If even half the school’s kids turned out for the event, that’d be about 450 children from LOJ alone, so the event’s a hot ticket.

“It’s a great way to start the school year,” Fisher said.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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