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School employees take the challenge


About 40 accept assistant superintendent's Ice Bucket Challenge

The Newberg School District adopted a new logo this summer, including the tagline, “Inspire. Innovate. Succeed.”

As she prepared to welcome teachers back at a district assembly Aug. 26 at Newberg High School, Superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza was searching for an example to give them to demonstrate that the new slogan was indeed relevant.

Considering the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a nationwide craze, it’s not shocking that LeBlanc-Esparza eventually landed on the idea of challenging teachers to participate the day after the assembly. Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Brain freeze - Newberg teachers and administrators, including superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza and assistant superintendent Dave Parker (at center), take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Aug. 27. The district administration challenged staff to take part in the fundraising and awareness craze at a district-wide staff assembly the day before.

However, it was quite figuratively shocking when she and about 40 other district staff members followed through by dousing themselves with ice water in front of the school Aug. 27.

“It was one of those late-night things,” LeBlanc-Esparza said. “I don’t know if I was doing dishes or what, but I just thought about the ice bucket challenge. Somebody was inspired over friends or family being ill, came up with an innovative idea and look at the success they had with it.”

LeBlanc-Esparza certainly wasn’t the only member of the district community to connect with the challenge this summer, as numerous employees at the assembly reported having already participated.

In fact, two days before the assembly, Newberg school board president Todd Thomas recorded his own video and challenged LeBlanc-Esparza and board vice president Polly Peterson.

Although the challenge is to respond within 24 hours, LeBlanc-Esparza decided to stick with the original plan, which called for assistant superintendent Dave Parker to record a video challenging the staff, which was then shown at the assembly a day after Thomas’.

Possibly because he had an actual moment of brain freeze, Parker received a fair amount of ridicule for mistakenly calling on the Newberg teachers to accept the challenge on behalf of Hillsboro in his video, which is why LeBlanc-Esparza challenged the Hillsboro school district, along with those of Sherwood and McMinnville, after completing the challenge Aug. 27.

“Folks were here and had fun doing it,” LeBlanc-Esparza said. “A lot of people in our system have made comments about how (ALS) has affected their families, so it was definitely personal for a number of people in our system.”

LeBlanc-Esparza also pledged to donate $10 to ALS research for each building that sent a representative to participate and many of the teachers that did also issued their own individual challenges following the surge of ice-cold water.

Video of the staff taking the challenge is available at the district website, www.newberg. k12.or.us, and on its Facebook page.

“The beginning of the year is all about bringing everyone together and that great energy that comes from starting a school year and working together,” LeBlanc-Esparza said. “So it was a great way to just bring everybody together to have some fun.”