Media Room


Governor Kate Brown
Madison High School Welcome Back to School
 August 27, 2018

Good morning! I’m Governor Kate Brown.

I’m so incredibly pleased to be here today to welcome you—the class of 2022—to high school. Let’s go Senators!

The first day of school is one of my favorite times of year. There is an enormous feeling of possibility and opportunity.

And no, it’s not about fresh pencils and new, blank notebooks—it is the possibility and opportunity that resides in each of you.

I want you to carry that sense of possibility and opportunity beyond today. I want you to feel it on the first day at a new job. On the first day of college. And for the rest of your lives.

What do you want to do after you finish school?

Those are all incredible dreams. They’re very different, but they all start in one place. Do you know where it is?

The classroom.

The work you do today, tomorrow, and every day for the next four years, makes everything else you want to do in your life possible.

Education gives you the tools to connect to the power of your own potential, and create the future you want to see.

I’ve met students from all across Oregon, and I’ve been so impressed by your determination, persistence, and hard work.

Still, Oregon lags behind most of the rest of the United States in high school graduation rates. We’re at 77 percent statewide, meaning roughly one out of four students doesn’t make it to commencement.

We need to give you the tools to match your determination and hard work. And when we come together to do that, we’re seeing positive changes. Madison is a good example of that. In one year, graduation rates went up over 6 percent.

But I think we can do more. I want every single person here to cross the high school graduation stage with a clear path for your future.

There are 342 of you here today. You have 342 different families, friends, homes, and experiences that shape who you are.

To make sure that all 342 of you cross that graduation stage, we have to make sure that even with all of those differences, you’re each getting what you need individually to succeed.

Like great teachers, and being able to spend more time with them. A 180 day school year, so that you’re on track with students around the country.

And making sure that when you’re here, you can focus on learning. We need to create environments where you feel safe. We need lessons that are relevant and engaging to you, that reflect and speak to the diverse backgrounds you all bring here.

And we need more access to hands-on learning, which helps you make connections between classroom and career.

We’re already making progress by increasing the number of career and technical education programs. I was here two years ago and visited your CTE classrooms.

Since then, we’ve invested heavily in CTE, rolling out more programs across the state from robotics to culinary arts. They provide students with a jumpstart toward a degree, or jobs in their area. When students see the connections between classroom and career, they are more likely to graduate. That’s why we quadrupled funding for CTE programs in the last legislative session.

And if we can continue this work across the whole state, we can make a big difference.

Because I believe that each and every student in Oregon—like you—is capable of succeeding.

I believe that Oregon needs to provide what you need to thrive.

And when we focus our improvement efforts to prioritize the kids who face the most barriers, and come together as a state and as a community, we can all succeed.

Here at Madison High, you’re already on your way. Can I get your commitment to helping us get closer to our goals? Can I get your commitment to graduate in 2022?

With your commitment, and Oregon’s, we can make sure every one of you can reach your potential, and your dreams.

Thank you!