Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED

Governor Kate Brown
South Medford High School
Monday, August 26, 2019

Good morning everyone!

Summer may be over, but back to school marks a time for new beginnings. A chance for a fresh start.

And you’re already on your way. 

You are living proof that in the face of generational adversity, political turmoil, and orthodontia, hope can still grow. 

And it grows every single day in your classrooms. 

Take, for example, Walker Elementary fifth grader Zoe Williams.

At nine years old Zoe wrote a book to teach people the dangers that single-use plastics pose for our oceans.

The book, “Coral’s Quest,” was illustrated by recent North Medford High School grad Sandra Aros. 

Zoe said something that will stick with me forever: “Plastic is killing the Earth and the ocean. And kids are the only ones who will be here if it doesn’t get fixed now.”

You all will inherit the world long after my generation is gone. And with passionate young people like Zoe and Sandra leading the way, I have faith in the future of Oregon. Because you are it! Give yourselves a hand!

I’m old, guys. I’m really old. I first ran for the legislature in 1992. Were any of you even alive back then? I ran on a platform of stable and adequate funding for education. And guess what? In my final campaign for governor last year, I ran on that same exact platform.

Unfortunately, that’s a generation of students and teachers just like you who have been making do with less.

So I am excited to report that we are investing an additional $1 billion a year in you and students like you across the state. We know the future of our great state depends on you. And you are worth every penny.

Classrooms around Oregon are changing as we continue to grow. I want to make sure that our educators reflect the growing changes in the faces of Oregon. We want to see representation of lived experiences in our teachers, principals, and superintendents. 

I know that many of you are going through things that no high schooler should have to go through, whether it be domestic violence, addiction, and houselessness. 

We are here for you. 

And your teachers and counselors will now have the resources to help you when you need it most. Reach out! Ask for help when you need it.

Finally, in my role as governor I want to improve our high school graduation rate. The best thing we can do is to make sure that you have access to practical, hands-on learning, which will help you transition from classroom to career. 

I am so excited about the Pathways Program here at South Medford High. It partners local industry with internships, apprenticeships, and job-shadowing. This program provides you all with a jumpstart toward a degree, or jobs in the region. When you make the connections between classroom and career, you are more likely to graduate.

So here it is. You have the resources you need to succeed. Now the rest depends on you. 

Now is the time to work hard, have a plan, and have some fun. So let’s hit the books! GO PANTHERS!