Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: April 29, 2017

McNary Kloset opens doors for Celtic students in need

Of the Keizertimes

Given the wide range of difficult conversations a teacher can have with a student, the most difficult might be the ones in which a student asks a teacher if they have anything to eat.

“The needs of our students are changing,” said Kim Pittsley, a counselor at McNary High School. “About 40 percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch plans and that’s not what people expect. The need is here.”

McNary is typically viewed as one of the more affluent schools in the Salem-Keizer School District.

Earlier this month, McNary and the Keizer Network of Women (KNOW), a subgroup of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, unveiled the McNary Kloset. KNOW members have committed to an ongoing campaign to collect items for underprivileged students with donation barrels at Willamette Valley Bank and Keizer Chamber of Commerce office in Keizer Station.

The Kloset started with KNOW member Audrey Butler asking Pittsley whether the school could use some McNary-branded clothing left over from a previous event. Pittsley said she could. That query led to a larger effort both at the school and within KNOW.

“Audrey asked if we could organize a clothing drive and I said we should make it part of the (ongoing) KNOW efforts,” said Stephanie Wittman, the current KNOW president and a sales and marketing representative with ServiceMaster of Salem.

At McNary, Assistant Principal Rhonda Rhodes set out to find a space to house a larger collection of items.

Simply having a space to house the Kloset represented a dramatic shift for the better, said Pittsley, who is still stunned with how quickly everything came together.

“Since the beginning of the school year, about half my office had been filled with clothing donated for students. It’s also taken pressure off the teachers who had taken to having food and snacks in their classroom,” Pittsley said.

Given that asking for assistance isn’t easy, Pittsley said the Kloset is operated as a private shopping experience. Struggling students can ask any trusted adult in the building to assist them with gaining access and Pittsley will call them down during the school day to “shop.”

“I have brand new backpacks in the store they can use to carry what they need. Students who need the help never leave looking like they’ve (been to the Kloset),” Pittsley said.

New and gently-used clothing (particularly items suitable for school and jobs) of all types is appreciated. The store also tries to have on-hand non-perishable food items that students can either eat during school or go home and prepare, like macaroni and cheese. Personal hygiene items, including feminine hygiene products, and staples like underwear are also needed.

In addition to donations coming in from the community, Pittsley said she’s already seen an increase in staff donations, too.

KNOW has a roster of volunteers who commit to checking the donation barrels once a week and getting the items to the school.

“Keizer comes together when they need to. Once the need is known, it’s just amazing how it keeps going,” Pittsley said. “I think it’s important that the community and McNary are working together and helping the students in need.”

Yates signs with George Fox

Of the Keizertimes

McNary senior Caleb Kiefiuk Yates’ college choice checked off every box.

Along with the opportunity to play football and a strong mechanical engineering program, George Fox University will also help Yates practice his faith.

“The football team and then the academics with engineering, those were the two big things together and the fact that it’s a Christian school,” Yates said. “I’m not outgoing with it but having that atmosphere around, I feel comfortable being in that.”

Yates, who will graduate with a 4.0 GPA, also wanted to stay close to home.

“I like going off to new places and exploring but the valley is just where I enjoy being.” he said.

Yates got into contact with George Fox early in his senior football season. One of his old teammates, Hayden Sader, is on the roster. After a couple of visits to the campus in Newberg, Yates knew that’s where he wanted to go, too.

“After I had seen whaat all they had to offer, they were my No. 1 and I knew that’s where I was going,” said Yates.

McNary head varsity coach Jeff Auvinen first got to know Yates as the coach of the freshmen team. He was on the field for every play at defensive end and tight end.

“I would like 150 kids like him every year,” Auvinen said. “He doesn’t say much. He leads by his actions. He’s a hard worker. We are going to miss him.”

Yates was primarily on the offensive line as a junior and then moved to defensive end, where he’ll play in college, this past season.

“He would anchor one end no matter the set,” said Auvinen,. “He was solid wherever we had him. He can do everything.”

McNary offensive coordinator Brad Emmert also highlighted Yates’ leadership.

“He never complained,” Emmert said. “He’s consistent in everything he does and we’re always looking for people like that.”